I listened to a Ted Talk yesterday that explained how the media has begun to cater to our individual preferences without most of us even being aware of it. I found this a little bit horrifying because I believe that for progress to me made in the world we absolutely must understand the perspectives of people who are different from us. According to the information that the speaker I watched presented, even on social media sites, what we actually see scrolling in front of us, is what the system thinks that we want to see the most. How can we possibly develop an understanding of things that we don’t know about, if the system is choosing to present us with things that we already know about, and probably agree with? It is very scary.
I have a really eclectic collection of friends and family…I could call it a menagerie of sorts. From people with vastly different political views from my own, to people who have vastly different religious beliefs, to people who have completely differing opinions about social responsibility from those that I have…these people are all my friends. I do not want to be surrounded by a bunch of people who share my exact same ideas and beliefs, if I were I would never ever grow, and in my opinion I would probably regress.
It is convenient for the media to devise news that will keep us happily glued to our television sets. The news media is remarkably successful at providing us with twenty-four hours of news every day, specifically crafted to our preferences. The ads that we see on our computers are perfectly designed to sell exactly the things we are looking to buy. This is why an ad for a Louis Viton bag has never, ever appeared on my computer screen. So how far do we have to leap to come to the conclusion that we are being sold the news that we want to hear in the same way that we are being sold toothpaste?
If there is never any conflict, never any healthy disagreement, never any clashing of opinions; then we will all turn into the consuming automatons that industry (which has currently taken over our government) would like for us to become. One of the best things that we can all do for our own communities is to seek to meet new people with differing views from our own and to engage with them in civilized discussions. We should especially do this in front of our children and other young people so that they learn how this is done, and learn how it is done correctly. Civilized discussion excludes insults and labeling, and it embraces the explanation of personal experience. There has been no better time in the world to engage in healthy discussion than today, because today we have a world of information at our fingertips. Misinformation no longer needs to be tolerated in an intelligent argument because everything can be googled in an instant.
I urge everyone to engage in civilized discussions, and even though I know that it can become terribly messy, I also urge people to do it online. I know many people who have vowed never ever to get in another social discussion online after they were involved in one where things got a little messy. I think that this is a shame. I think that it is important that those of us capable of discussing hot button issues amongst people we do not know, while still respecting each and every individual involved, desperately need to keep doing so. It sets a good example for other people and it keeps people thinking, and engaged in healthy arguments. I am involved in one as I am writing this as a matter of fact. I think that it is worth the risk to take the chance that someone will get angry and say something rude, as long as I myself am doing a good job of being consciously respectful of the beliefs and opinions of everyone involved. It makes a difference.