Latent Consequences of Societal Machines

Reproduction print of the original watercolor painting “Introspection” by Polina Bright

A reflection on the United States

Our environment determines the plates we have to set our table, the menu served, and the utensils obtainable to break down every full-course meal into a digestible helping. Placing the burden of human rights activism on the discriminated is acidic patronization. Culture dangles a steak that claims to be free for the taking, yet when we look down at our small, chipped saucers and spoons – we discover there’s no such room for liberation work. Institutions demand harsher labor for longer hours and less compensation than those given a knife and platter. In return, it continues to dismiss our capabilities, reject our worthiness, and last but certainly not least – invalidate the innateness of our nonconsensual conditions.

“There’s no such thing as a free lunch,” said the economics teacher in my junior year of high school. Opportunity comes at a cost, and whether or not we’re aware of the price before dining is irrelevant. Just as fossil fuels provided an exciting era of movement and travel, they also created consequences at the unexciting expense of the planet’s ozone layer. Similarly, the externalities of “liberty” and “freedom” in a proud Christian nationalist country are anomie, bigotry, and discrimination. No indemnity will be given by this society for loss of autonomy.

“49 people killed and 53 injured in Orlando gay nightclub massacre, in what marks the deadliest mass shooting in American history. The murders occurred during what was LGBT Pride weekend for cities in and beyond the United States,” CNN, 2016. “Gunman kills 5 and injures 25 at LGBTQ night club in Colorado Springs. The shooting occurred minutes before Transgender Day of Remembrance which seeks to highlight the dangers the LGBTQ community continues to face daily,” CNN, 2022.

Apathy, according to sociology, is the experience of not having the emotional energy to respond to events appropriately. Back in my day, the only safety drills we practiced in school were for natural disasters. We learned the correct reactive responses to hazards of uncontrollable and unpredictable severe weather – such as blizzards, floods, or tornadoes. The other day I was in a lecture on campus and a construction site nearby had dropped a steel beam, which made a startling loud boom. It took me a few seconds to come out of that moment and that’s when I realized – some of the other students still looked frightened. Puzzled, I asked a classmate sitting next to me if they were okay and they said they thought it was a real active shooter in the building. I then started to get nervous until someone looked out the window and pieced together what had happened. It was the first time in my life that THAT fear had organically crossed my mind, and it was the first time I internalized this heartbreaking generational gap. It may not have been my primary school experience, but for the majority of my Generation Z classmates – it’s the only reality they’ve ever known.

My biggest qualm with the American dream is that it doesn’t cost the same for every body. Misplaced zero-sum ideology in its capitalist glory contends that life has no tangible indeterminateness. It’s all or nothing, rich or poor, black or white… so what happens to those who live in the beautifully complex, complicated, and liberating gray? They’re deemed deviant threats to collective comfort, familiarity, and conformity. Violence is the catalyst in which war is declared against such authenticity. Harassment becomes hearsay and abuse becomes ‘natural’ and automatic weapons become normal. I see the shambles of a country that claims “Justice For All” as it steps on the neck of yet another victim to reach out and shake the hand of the next billionaire that Tweets to the world “United We Stand.”

by Cambria Nesryn | 11.21.2022
Sociology student, College of Charleston


• Boan-Lenzo, Chris. “Week 13 Video 1.” Socialization and Deviance. (2019).
Accessed Nov. 21, 2022:

• CNN. “Orlando shooting.” 49 killed, shooter pledged ISIS allegiance. (2016).
Accessed on Nov. 21, 2022:

• CNN. “Colorado Springs shooting.” Gunman kills 5 at LGBTQ nightclub in Colorado Springs before patrons confront and stop him, police say. (2022).
Accessed on Nov. 21, 2022:

• Investopedia. “TANSTAAFL.” Meanings and examples. (2020).
Accessed on Nov. 21, 2022: