There has been a lot said about echo chambers, filter bubbles, and the skewed realities which we are all privy to. The conscious decisions and the algorithmic unconscious provisions. Confirmation bias says that we hear what we already believe to be true so that we can squeeze and fit things into our preconceived narrative.
In an age of mass information (and mis-information) this human impulse becomes stronger than ever.
Before we can speak we must first listen.
And we must listen to those with different views. Not simply the surface stuff so that we can respond and name-call, but so that we can practice empathy; to get beneath the skin and perspective. For without that deep contextual understanding we have no connection.
Empathy opens the door for conversations and it destroys rhetorical generalisation and stereotyping. It requires us to be vulnerable and open; not to condone or accept actions and beliefs that repulse, but to see the heart of those things. For at the heart is where change happens, not through condemnation and judgement. And we must sow the seeds of empathic roots in our communities, cultures and institutions.
We can’t possibly imagine being able to objectively process the millions and millions of informational fragments coming at us each day. So we find a narrative, a world-view and a set of values. And then hear what we want to hear. The stuff that fits with what we think we believe. This is formed by years and years of life; relationships, experiences, consumption, media, a lack of exposure to different people and backgrounds. Every single one of us has a narrative about the world that conflicts with truth on different levels. That’s not right or wrong, it’s normal.
We spend our time on the surface; condemning how other people interpret events based on their underlying narrative. And this kind of condemnation, name-calling, and writing off does little more than more vehemently cement the story and strengthen the attitude.
The question is not one of truth and seeking an objective view of every piece of information. Such a task is impossible and the path of seeking it would drive you crazy. Humans are by nature subjective; even the objectivity of evidential fact and science is clouded by the subjectivity of which science is chosen, funded, supported and used to support a pre-conceived narrative about the world. It is driven by humans with some kind of agenda. We are not robots who work tirelessly on things we don’t see value in.
So the question can only really be about the fundamental story we use to talk to ourselves about events, people and situations. And to hold this story, not as a way to say ‘I told you so’ or a reason to fling mud. But simply as a way to grasp the perpetual job of making things better.
And we must find ways to open hearts and minds, not through suppression of words, thoughts, and attitudes. Suppression is cowardice; short term control that leads to long term devastation, which increases in its potential.
Many have become disillusioned, carrying a narrative of confusion and despair. We might see institutions and even people as inherently untrustworthy. Hiding behind provocative memes and passive aggressive name-calling towards those with whom we disagree at arm’s length.
We laugh at others, criticising and condemning their narratives. Only, we do this while failing to see that there is a problem with our own narrative.
It has lost its thread, its hope, its freedom. It is defined by what we’re not rather than what we are, like a parasite unable to look into the mirror to see the gaping hole.
This is a trojan horse. A tool that will eat away at us from the inside while we are looking over the wall…
poem// a trojan horse
uneven concrete pillars line my long unsighted path,
uneasy refuge. complex. upheaval, flag and mast.
i wish i wasn’t here. it seems that nor do you.
the afterglow from burning embers, the memories i must eschew.
the past has a funny way, a funny game to play.
to make you feel forgotten, and longing for the day.
pining back with clouded truth, a dream that took no root.
the present and the future grip tightly and on mute.
strong attachment, strange derailment, grown men feel left behind.
like these concrete pillars are the buildings of our pride.
i’m not here to inject your culture with your own fear and hate,
the trojan horse is in the room, it galloped through the open gate.
it’s talking to experience, and appealing to the room,
the feeling of belonging, invited through the gloom.
don’t say you didn’t see it coming, it was broadcast on TV,
the scapegoats and dry tickly throats, provoked reality.
“again” implies a former time, when things were decent here,
let’s fuel with anger, fear and hate, the ship we’re going to steer.
pandora’s box had its lid chipped off, bit by bit by bit,
it started as a funny joke, but now the fan’s been hit.