We have access to the world at our fingertips and yet, observations and recent studies indicate that we are becoming more insular in our views. In the US this seems to be at an extreme where more and more people tend to spend an increasing amount of time in the ideological silos and political echo chambers. But also in Europe, we see people polarised by current events and politics. Algorithms inundate us with offers, opinions and information that are filtered so that all the items we receive from search engines and social media feeds tailor information based on our existing views and habits. The result seems to be a growing intolerance to opinions that do not agree with our own. However, if we do not experience contrast it becomes more and more difficult to challenge ourselves and experience personal growth.
One of the great benefits of growing up in Vancouver, Canada, is the incredible diversity of the population. It ’s not perfect and these days there are many cases of political correctness taken to extremes, but my experiences there and through travelling the world, seem to have helped me gain a more well-rounded view of the world. At least I hope this is the case. What about you? Have you ever tried to engage people outside of your own social circle? This has little to do with rich or poor; formally educated or not. You might be surprised where you can find some piece of wisdom or where some important thing about yourself is reflected back to you. A lonely old person might have amazing stories to tell. A child might make insightful observations that many adults miss. And a homeless person could have experienced things that revealed an understanding of life that most people caught up in their daily routines might never come upon. People you meet each day, no matter which walks of life they come from, may have more relatable wisdom for you than many of the cliche quotes and sayings that we hear repeated again and again.
Living your life in an insular world with a one-sided worldview has many negative side effects. Not only will your perspective often be one dimensional along with the types of experiences you have but your opportunities for growth will also be limited. It is like living in your comfort zone. Without anything to challenge your habits of thought and behaviour, you will have fewer stimuli to encourage growth and change. But perhaps more importantly, our lack of ability to see the world through another’s eyes will limit our ability for compassion or develop a greater sense of connection with a diverse group of people. Without this contrast, we may also lose that sense of perspective which often helps to fuel our sense of gratitude. Instead, we may get lost in our own first world problems, bickering and complaining about things that may be relatively insignificant. Compassion, gratitude and the ability to grow are incredibly important in creating a meaningful and happy life. So if you notice that your thoughts and opinions are very polarised or dominated by the messages you constantly see repeated around you, you may be interacting in a bubble. If you look beyond you may be surprised what you find.