Along with updates about Marvel superheroes, pictures of dinner and clips of anthropomorphized puppies, my Facebook and Twitter feeds are full of people who agree with me.
That feels pretty good, lemme tell you.
I can sit in my fantastic little bubble here, safe in the knowledge that all is good and that everyone thinks pretty much just like I do.
Wonderful. Or it would be wonderful, if it weren’t for a couple of notable exceptions. Some people have popped up jarringly post-Brexit and post-Trump, with views that I most certainly don’t share. Their posts catch my eye as I’m scrolling away, urging me to read deeper to see what opinion they’re peddling and how wrong they’ve got it.
There’s a certain self-satisfaction is seeing one of these posts and dismissing it as wrong or ignorant or ridiculous. And of course, the temptation to write a humdinger of a comment that will put them straight is delicious.
And then comes that terrible thought… “Do I unfriend…?”
The diminishing nature of truth
There are so many truths these days that nobody can agree on what’s true and what isn’t. People are calling this a post-fact world, with post-truth politics, where facts only need to be a point of view that’s bought into.
Truths gain buoyancy as more people consume and believe them, and we’ve seen how viciously divisive this open-market of truths is.
And when filter bubbles serve us the truths that we’ve already bought into, is it any wonder that people get upset when an opposing view cracks through?
Whether you’re a civil rights activist, a racist, a Christian, a lobbyist, pro-gun, pro-choice, climate change skeptic, educational reformer, lesbian, Muslim or anything else, isn’t it entirely serving division when each of our worlds are aligned to satisfy our own ego?
Filter bubbles make it easier to judge and hate than ever before. I’m wondering not only how well served we are by burgeoning bubbles of “truth”, but how well we can serve others when we live within those bubbles.
Confidence, not complacency
With both Brexit and Trump, I’ve been close to unfriending and unfollowing. I’ve seen posts that have stirred me and riled me. I’ve thought “What the fuck is wrong with you?” and my finger has hovered over that button.
We’re just one click away from cleansing our stream of anything we don’t like, agree with or get offended by.
But confidence within a bubble isn’t confidence at all. It’s blinkered complacency and complicit intolerance.
Confidence is the ability to trust your decisions from a place of wholeness—not from self-righteousness, piety or self-protection.
In what some are already calling the understatement of the century, there are some impossibly hard issues out there. But rather looking for my molly to be coddled or taking offence, the confident approach is to explore them from a place of curiosity and respect.
We can’t afford to be complacent, not one of us, because that complacency doesn’t serve the things we value.
It undermines them.
Life outside the bubble…
It’s hard, awkward and uncomfortable, but the only choice worth a damn is to burst our bubbles.
It’s outside our bubbles that we stretch ourselves, and others. It’s there where we can ask questions and learn about how other people are trying their best too. And it’s there where we have to practice compassion, no matter what we’re faced with.
I have to be honest with you here. I’m figuring out what this might look like for me, and I’m far, far, far away from having any answers.
But I’m not about to unfriend or unfollow anyone—I’m going to listen more to the things I might prefer not to hear. I’m not going to react to the hate and judgment I see. I’m going to respond to the conditions in which hate and judgement flourish. And I’m not going to judge people from within the confines of my if-only-everyone-would-agree-with-me-bubble. I’m going to consistently entertain the possibility that I’m wrong.
So what I’m interested in, is your experience here.
How do you think you’re changed by filter bubbles?