The other day, I watched the Netflix documentary, The Social Dilemma. It’s all about social media, and screens, and the impact it’s all having on us. Disturbing for sure. And, I recommend you watch it.
It confirmed what I already knew, but hadn’t really articulated; that we are increasingly silo’d (thanks to algorithms) into hearing like-voices. What we choose to listen to and watch on our screens determines what we see and hear next. And so, we keep hearing only the voices of those who agree with us.
This makes it increasingly difficult to understand why someone might think differently than we do. We assume they are seeing the same news and media, when in fact, they are also seeing only those things that confirm their position.
And, our world is becoming increasingly bifurcated. Left and right. Conservative and liberal. Racist and Anti-racist. Pro-life or pro-choice. Etc. etc.
In myself, I recognize a parallel increasing lack of tolerance for differing views, perhaps precisely because I’m losing the muscle for it. I don’t have to practice it much anymore, so my ability to listen to something that doesn’t resonate with my views is lessened.
Rather than hearing interesting variety, my ears hear dissonance. Rather than welcoming a challenging opinion, I’m likely to shut it down before really hearing it.
In such a world, how can we better listen? There’s probably no such thing as objectivity, but shouldn’t we expose ourselves to enough diversity to form critical opinions and thoughtful responses?
This is something I’m going to be thinking about this month, and work on exercising my ears, so that they’re more open. We are the ‘church of the open minds’, after all. Right?
Right here with you,