Burst Your Bubble. Broaden Your Perspective.
It’s no doubt that we are experiencing a time in our country — and our world — of deep division and uncertainty. For many reading this blog, this moment is unprecedented and we are unsure of where to turn to process all that is happening. While the current political turmoil comes top of mind when we speak of division, I believe that it is really only a symptom of a much greater issue. That is…
Our desire to position others as different than ourselves is one of the greatest threats our world faces today.
In small and large ways, this notion has crept into our thinking. Subtle lessons learned through our upbringing to our own personal experiences have shaped our worldview and cemented the notion that we are somehow different. In its most damning form this manifests itself as a belief of knowing more or being better than other people, cultures, or ideologies. This way of thinking has negatively impacted everything from global policy to our own communities.
What’s more, in our current day and age this issue is compounded in its complexity through how we consume information. It’s no secret that search engines and social media platforms algorithmically select what we see based on our preferences and interests in an attempt to provide a more relevant experience. The negative result of this is that nearly everything we see online is filtered through the lens and perspective that we WANT to see. Eli Pariser, activist and current Chief Executive at Upworthy coined the term “filter bubble” to describe this current phenomenon which thwarts our ability to gain a balanced perspective on global issues and the people they affect.
In many ways, the dangerous view of “otherness” is why we started our organization. The only communication we had seen about global poverty in our formative years was about impoverished communities throughout the developing world that were helpless, and whom needed someone to come and “save” them. Our experiences traveling internationally and volunteering in similar communities 12 years ago completely shifted our perspective on global poverty. We met beautiful, strong, and capable people. These people had incredible dreams for their family and a serious desire to be responsible for the changes in they sought in their lives.
Here are a few ways I have come across recently to begin breaking down your personal filter bubble, and as a result changes this:
1) Be aware of it. Recognizing that this is an issue is a critical first step in being cognisant of the bubbles we live in.
2) Take the other to lunch. Elizabeth Lesser gave a great TED talk a number of years ago, urging people to take “the Other” to lunch. The idea was simply to reach out to someone with a different (perhaps contrarian) worldview or perspective to yours to simply attempt to understand them.
3) Subscribe to online feeds that don’t simply reinforce what you already believe. If we are going to incessantly check social media, it’s important to think about ways to incorporate strategies to break down your own filter bubble. Humans of New York does a beautiful job profiling people and stories across a broad range of issues like the Syrian refugee crisis and others.
4) Learn more about the person who made your product. Our hope with our product is to allow you to have a small glimpse into the life of another person and a different culture than your own. Learn more about the woman who made your KK intl. item and write her a note.
Speaking from my personal experience, we would never have started down this path of empowering people, if we hadn’t literally removed ourselves from our own bubble and got to know other people drastically different from ourselves. I am forever changed and forever indebted for this exposure to cultures and ideologies far different than those I experienced growing up. I’m better for it, and I know you will be too.
We have a lot to learn from each other. Get out there.