How often do you seek perspectives from sources outside of your bubble?
Every individual looks at life through the lens of his or her unique life experiences and influences. Therefore, our thinking is limited by what we have been exposed to emotionally, experientially and intellectually. We don’t intentionally insulate ourselves; it just happens as we naturally seek out like-minded people.
I have learned that my ideas might make perfect sense from within a bubble of like-minded thinkers, but different viewpoints reveal my blind spots and expand my perspective. We won’t learn to sharpen and clarify our ideas if we only interact with people who agree with us.
Have we created cozy personal bubbles, self-affirming universes, for ourselves? If so, we won’t see things as they are on the basis of their objective merits. Instead, as Anais Nin so astutely observed, we will see things as we are.
Isolated in ideological bubbles, we might begin to think that people in other bubbles are stupid, hostile or even evil, when in fact they are simply our neighbors who happen to look at life through different lenses.
The danger of insular input was the subject of one of my very early blog posts featuring this Ted Talk by Eli Pariser: Beware online “filter bubbles’“ (It’s well worth the ten minutes it will take you to watch it.) If you don’t have time to click on the link, Pariser describes a filtering process by which Facebook and Google, for example, feed us information based on our preferences thereby limiting our exposure to the other side(s) of a discussion. He advises us to intentionally seek out a variety of inputs in our news feeds.
If we’re going to get along, survive, and (miracles do happen) even thrive in our pluralistic society, I believe we must purposefully poke our heads out of our personal bubbles and respectfully seek to understand another’s. I want to learn how to invite and engage in conversations between people who will not necessarily agree with me or with each other.
We need more constructive cross-bubble communication.
There is only one arena in which unity and mutual respect have a chance of overriding political, social, economic and theological differences: those who follow Jesus, the Church. Perhaps we have a unique opportunity to lead the way toward some beneficial bubble-building.
For a beautiful demonstration of this very thing, with thanks to Susie for her comment and this link, please check out this story about the friendship and open communication between Dan Cathy of Chick-fil-A and Shane L. Windmeyer, a gay man and founder of Campus Pride.
How do you entertain other ideas and opinions? Have you experienced unity in Christ even among strong political, economic, social and/or racial differences? How might the Church develop a culture of inviting dialogue instead of protecting a particular bubble of thought?
“Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, an is in all.” Colossians 3:11