Unity and Bubbles

Many of  us live in bubbles of our own making. We share the same opinions, breathe the same air. Groupthink rules the day in many organizations, dissent is neither sought nor welcomed. Too often, people do not want to hear our thoughts, they want to hear their thoughts expressed in our voices.

One of the early promises of the Internet, and lately social media, was that we could choose from a virtual buffet of thoughts and ideas from a broad spectrum of sources.

We live in a world filled with a diversity of ideas that can challenge our personal beliefs and biases. We are no longer dependent on the filters of the editors and managing producers of the programs which provide our news. We are no longer the captive masses, whose thoughts and opinions are shaped by the opinions of others who think they know what we want to see and hear. We are now in control, able to challenge ourselves by finding what we want to stay informed.

Instead, our bubbles have seemed to turn into echo chambers, increasing in volume but narrowing in scope what we choose to see and hear. We often use our empowerment only to ratify and reinforce the ideas we already hold. Not to admit the possibility that we could be “wrong,” not to seek the thoughts and opinions which challenge ours, and use that discourse to grow intellectually.

We merely reinforce what we already “know” to be true by finding and following only those who share our beliefs, and use the algorithms of social media to “like” only those who happen to be like us.

Discourse has been replaced with sound bites of 140 characters, or “we only have a few seconds left until we have to take a break.” If I disagree with you, it is easier to unfriend or unfollow you than to discuss our differences.

Interesting choice of words.  Unfriend. Unfollow.

But if I agree with you, or you with me, we will retweet and share so that everyone in our networks see how smart we are because others agree with us. The more likes, shares, and retweets, the smarter we are and the more correct our position. If the post trends, or goes viral, it should be immediately added to Scripture.

The topic is Unity. Possibly, and hopefully, not achievable. If we were all like me, the world would truly be a very boring place, and we wouldn’t learn much beyond what we already know.

But while the goal remains unity, the challenge is respect. Respect both the people and their ideas that may be somewhat different than ours. Not to judge the ideas by the opinions we have of the people expressing them. Rather, engage them in conversation and reflection to see what motivates them to see things differently from us.

If the entire choir is singing the same melody, it is certainly nice to listen to. But additional voices adding counterpoint make it memorable.

To which I shout, Hallelujah!



One thought on “Unity and Bubbles

  1. The advent of social media and the ease of communication have proven to be a double-edged sword: both helpful and harmful at the same time. In the education community, I no longer have to wait for a publication to arrive by email a few times a year; instead, the latest information (or opinion) is instantly on the screen. With it comes, in my opinion, more pressure than ever to conform to what you call “groupthink”. As an educator, I’m now faced with the message, “successful educators do this,” and it is presented as a truth not to be opposed. I don’t feel free to question or to oppose. If I disagree with the prevailing theories, I am wrong, deficient, and a “menace to society” (practically).

    My stance on social media has been this: follow passionate educators, seek to agree when there is common ground (however small), remain silent when I can’t find common ground, question occasionally if I can do this without being condescending or rude, unfollow when someone is consistently abrasive or demeaning, or when he/she says something to the effect of “my or the highway”. I’m not sure if this is the right approach or not.

    You make a great point when you identify the need for respect. When we do not share the same opinion, we should still be able to share respect.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s