Blinders Off

I almost titled this “There is too much, let me sum up…” but that’s actually counter to the point I am about to make. There is so much to read now, so many people casting words and videos and snaps into the ether, that if you aren’t careful, you drown. And from what I’ve noticed, you tend to drown in a very narrow slice of the thoughts which are cast out. Meaning, all the algorithms that send us article after article of “you may also like” are doing us a disservice.

This week an absolute jerk (who doesn’t deserve to be named) proved to the entire world just what an asshole he can truly be, when he is at his best. The entire cyberworld paid attention and countered his idiotic thoughts, and much of the next three days was nothing but rallying, countering, counter-countering, ass-covering and miles of words cast into the ether about this one topic. I said almost nothing because clearly, it would have drowned unseen. My friends who cast a wider net were saying more effective things along the lines that I would have written. They were doing it better. So I let them, and I liked and shared it. Because I like and share those sentiments. Nota bene: What I am about to say should not be construed as me not caring or not taking a side in the above issue.

There are, believe it or not, quite a few other things going on in the world. The asshole above simply stole your attention. I’d encourage you to not let him do that. Just a quick trip down NPR’s top international stories, and a few other sources reveals much more intelligent and worthy content:

Saudi Arabia, one of the most repressive large countries, is allowing women to vote in this “partial election.”

The Climate Change Conference in Paris is making strides, in session overtime.

I am always looking for the bright lights after a black cloud is cast over media and the majority of our cyber-attention. I found one in this piece. One of our local philanthropist’s companies was integral in creating this beautiful campaign. You might notice that some commenters think it’s stupid. To which I’d reply with this piece.

Just in case you can’t stand all the positivity, and need negative headlines in order to consider it “news,” here’s your lede: India has been blockading Nepal’s borders for more than two months. The reason: Nepal wrote the country’s first constitution (following monarchy and civil war) and ratified it in late September. India didn’t like what Nepal’s constitution said, so it cut off the tiny land-locked country from supplies of fuel, food and medical supplies. The article above has a poignant snipit: “The impact of the Indian blockade on Nepal’s economy has now far outstripped damage from the earthquake.”

Me meeting the Prime Minister of Nepal in 2011.

“Oh, right… that’s the country that had 10,000 die in a 7.8 earthquake in April. I had forgotten….” Because perhaps you’d rather wallow in the attention-mongering asinine actions of certain presidential candidates. The UN has called for India to quit the blockade and they haven’t. I know a handful of Nepalis who are posting occasional images from nearby the border blockades. They’re showing up on Everyday Nepal. I’ve written more about my personal experience with this situation here. But my guess is, if you didn’t know me, you’d know nothing of this situation. Because of our cyber-blinders. Think I’m full of it? This should help. As  much as I hate that style of journalism, it’s a good teacher.

We view the world through our own very narrow tunnel, whether we mean to or not. And perhaps we’re taught to own our convictions. But that’s exactly what’s caused the polarization we’re experiencing now. Especially once we reach a certain age, we repeat very small circles. Media since the internet has encouraged and honed this because it’s algorithm-able. Pile more on what you clicked on. Add to the base coverage that was clicked on most yesterday, feed it to the people who ate it yesterday. I’m tired of the internet telling me what I should eat.

So after you’ve clicked on the tenth asshole-political-candidate article which supports your view, try clicking on one of the links above or below that you know nothing about.

I know I am in the minority of people who actively goes out and searches for information outside of my own interests, but I encourage you to try it. If you are a devout Christian, go learn something about Hinduism. If you are an animal rights vegetarian, go learn about the benefits of meat as a protein source, or about hunting. And I don’t mean the raw-vegan site that talked about it one time, in language you are accustomed to. Go to a hunting site and listen to what the other side has said. (Not about guns, for cripes sake, about meat as food… start reasonably.) And prepare to quell your own heart palpitations and red-faced denial. Sit outside of your own ideology for just a minute and listen. Or if you’re a hunter or devout carnivore, research a couple of meatless meals you would be happy eating. Find the intelligence there (and by intelligent, I don’t mean, “things that agree with you”). Find curiosity in foreign topics and figure it out a little bit.

Learn what people who are NOT like you know. Wait, read that last sentence again… I’ll wait here. Good, now I’ll place quite possibly the most intelligent of all these links. (Though, as an editor and like being inclusive, I’d change “Buddhists are not free of it either” to Athiests. Everyone. Humans.) It’s about how your own truth is no more valid or truthy than all those you hold counter to your own. It’s about being devout in any belief, and how that devoutness can damage you. Seriously, even if you didn’t click on any of the links above, you deserve the wisdom in this one.

Read something outside your own comfort content. Most of us haven’t done that since high school or college. Who knows, you might learn something new that opens you up to a more complete, fulfilled life.