Bubbles

The technology of the 21st Century is both radically connecting and radically isolating.

More than any time in history we are able to find and build relationships with like-minded people and build niche communities that aren’t bound by physical proximity. We can find support networks that affirm and validate us. We can find our people, our tribe. We can find belonging.

But through this process, we also often isolate ourselves from those who don’t share our views. We have news outlets from Fox News to the Huffington Post that cater to our belief systems and worldviews. We can self-select what kinds of news and opinions we see or don’t see in our Facebook feeds. We don’t hear opinions that we despise directly from the source. We don’t look someone in the eyes and see the humanity behind their beliefs. We aren’t driven to treat them with the decency and compassion that physical proximity encourages and often necessitates. 

We have more information and news from around the world then ever, but increasingly that information and news is filtered and distorted through the beliefs and viewpoints we already hold. We hear these stories through someone we already trust and agree with. They often accentuate and embellish. They often omit the parts that might encourage a more nuanced and balanced perspective. And they often tell us how we ought to react. 

Our bubbles gives very little opportunity and incentive to truly consider opposing viewpoints and reconsider our own beliefs. In fact, doing so may often undermine our belonging with our tribe.

This is a defining characteristic of our time. We can create belonging and validation for ourselves in ways that were unimaginable not long ago. But often doing so encourages us to become less tolerant of, blame, and hold disgust for those we disagree with. We all have an increasingly distorted view of what is normal and what is radical.

Outrage pulls us closer to our tribes. But it also disconnects us from and fosters contempt and disgust for other tribes, and even humanity as a whole.

Peter Schulte

Peter Schulte is the founder and editor of Kindling. Peter is also Senior Digital Engagement Associate for the Pacific Institute and the UN Global Compact's CEO Water Mandate, connecting businesses to sustainable water practices. Peter holds a B.S. in Conservation and Resource Studies and a B.A. in Comparative Literature from University of California, Berkeley, and an M.B.A. in Sustainable Systems from Pinchot University. He lives in Bellingham, WA, USA with his wife, son, and cat.

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