In an attempt to pop my filter bubble (see the previous post) I have been purposefully seeking out more variety in my information sources. This means that I must dust off my own internal filtering skills when evaluating a communicated message or a piece of information. Does the message make sense? Is it based on solid data and/or analysis? What is the bias of this particular source? What is my own bias? Facts are facts, of course, but after being externally filtered by news sources and then interpreted through my own internal biases, experiences, ideologies and perspectives my “facts” might look very different from someone else’s “facts.”
No wonder our public discourse tends to be polarized and unproductive.
But our private discourse can be very different. The beauty of human communication is that it offers us the opportunity to see things through the eyes of another. As we share our interpretive frameworks, our filtering systems, we try them out on each other, hear new perspectives, and look at the facts through fresh lenses. We might adjust our filters; we might change those of another. Or both. In any case, when two people honestly and respectfully compare their perceptions they are both enriched.
My son recommended the television show Monk to me for workout and treadmill entertainment. (It’s available on Netflix along with other television treasures that I never knew about or had time to watch before.) Monk is a detective who is hilariously handicapped by obsessive compulsive disorder. In one episode Monk is hanging wallpaper and, of course, fixates on making sure the paper is straight. He pulls out a level, over his assistant’s objections, and insists that the level is not to be trusted. Monk then unveils another level. When asked what that was for, he answered something like, “This is the level to check my level. It’s my level-checking level.”
I need a filter-checking-filter. My filters are not always straight. My perspective is slanted by my own experiences and exposures. Yours is too. Together we can check each other’s perceptions.
Finally, there is one ultimate filter-checking filter that I apply to my perceptions. Amazingly, like a human interaction, when I interact with God he rubs off on me, and I adjust my thinking according to his perfect perspective. The beauty of the relationship God invites us into is that He is willing to entertain our ideas, talk with us, listen to us, and speak to us. It’s not like a human conversation, of course, but over time spent in the Bible and in prayer, we begin to absorb His unspoiled interpretive framework. He is the final filter, the ultimate level-checking level. He straightens me out.
Who, or what, is your final filter?