surinenglish

The boy in the bubble

There can be no doubt that we live in a complex world. Well, that's what you'd think everyone would believe but, no, apparently not. It would seem from social media feeds and, in fact from just talking to people, that everything is much more black and white in the eyes of a large section of the population - i.e. 'I'm right and you're wrong.' The inflexibility of our thinking is consistently astonishing, not to mention deeply worrying.

Once upon a time, Mohammed Ali said that any man who views the world at fifty in the same way as he did when he was twenty has wasted thirty years of his life. Surely the old pugilist was right, and yet that appears to be exactly what huge swathes of the population are hell-bent on doing - maintaining their preconceived world view at any cost. We buy newspapers which reinforce our perspectives; we mix with people who conform to our way of seeing things; we even block or 'unfriend' (nice term) anyone on Twitface that disturbs our hermetically-sealed bubble of like-minded opinion.

Of course, what a healthy society needs is for lots of people to be doing exactly the opposite - investigating where we might be mistaken and where opposing viewpoints may be credible. That ain't gonna happen.

Actually, I've got a right wing extremist nutter among my online chums (bizarrely I met him on the spiritual journey which is the Camino de Santiago). He's mad as a box of frogs but I haven't cast him out into the wilderness with a feisty click of a mouse because it's important to know what's going on in other dimensions even if it makes for uncomfortable viewing.

Ignoring differing views is the adult equivalent of a six-year-old sticking his fingers in his years and shouting 'Can't hear you!' when you order him to tidy his room (that's if parents order their children to do anything these days; maybe they just call a group meeting). Except that the grown up version of this phenomenon is a lot less mature. All of this widespread intolerance (ironically, often most vehemently manifest by people preaching, er, tolerance) is deeply damaging to society.

From time to time, it's probably a good idea for us to try to think of something that we believe now but that we didn't believe five years ago. If it's a struggle, that's almost certainty a bad sign - just ask Mohammed Ali.