Like Us

There are a lot of people in the world. A lot of these people don’t think like you do. They don’t seem to share the same world view, values, or beliefs. They’re not like us.

This has always been true. Maybe the internet continues to throw this truth in our face - a truth which we were never designed to address as insecure, fearful, tribal primates. Maybe it compels us to cling to the tribes which reenforce our world view more velocity than ever before.

Of course, it doesn’t help that we can’t actually see the people behind the post, the like, the retweet. We can’t visualize the real humans who make up the tribes which we build up as the antithesis of everything that is good. If we did, maybe we’d see them through a wider lens - one which encompasses all of their personhood. The places where you agree and the ones where you don’t; the insecurities you share and how they got there; the bad and the good.

In the end, it’s easy to find the ways in which people aren’t like us, but the magic happens when we find the ways in which they are.

Berry Brains

It seems early humans were pretty good at pattern detection as it relates to berries. We'd quickly learn which ones would provide a quick snack, and which ones would do harm.

Of course, modern humans treat brands in much the same way. As we get older, we grab the familiar logo over the strange new offerings.

Maybe our berry brains are still in full-effect, protecting us from the dangers in a world that is filled with excessive choice. But maybe when we recognize what's going on, we’re given an entirely new kind of choice.

Fake Plastic Trees

Plants are messy. You have to keep feeding them, they get sick, they die.

Plastic foliage has none of these problems. They stay perfect and remain so for hundreds of years (even after humans are gone).

Maybe we put them up as placeholders - things which we hope nobody pays too much attention to. We want the advantage of the imagery, without the effort that goes into it.

The problem is that when people do pay attention, it has the opposite effect.

Good Persons

Maybe doing a bad thing doesn’t make you a bad person.

Maybe doing a stupid thing doesn’t make you a stupid person.
Maybe doing a good thing doesn’t make you a good person.

Of course, personhood is more complicated than the labels we gives ourselves, and others.

Maybe we’re all of these things, all the time.

Attachments

Our attachments are dear to us. The labels, identities, and thoughts we perpetuate and attach to ourselves make us feel like us. Of course, we spend a lot of energy reorganizing our attachments so they don't conflict - shedding some and gaining others - so we feel consistent.

When someone attacks, discredits, or belittle an attachment we hold, it hurts. Sometimes it hurts because we're worried about the attachment - we want to protect it. Most of the time, however, it hurts most because it questions our consistency.

If this isn't true, then who am I?

Maybe the higher order our mental attachments are, the more surface area we introduce for pain. Attaching yourself to the idea that the earth is round is specific, and probably pretty safe. Attachment to being the one with all the answers - attachment to being a good person - attachment to being funny, attractive, intelligent, informed, unique, morally superior. These are big, and they're going to be attacked.

If this isn't true, then who am I?

Maybe how we respond when our attachments are questioned change the energy of a conversation. And, as conversations bubble up to discourse, maybe the quality of our discourse changes our connections, norms, and communities.

Maybe we invite others to shed their attachments by throwing away our own, right in front of them. Right where they can see it.

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