The Bubble We Live In

October 29, 2012Category: WritingTags: ,

Several years ago I was talking to my dad about technology and we got into a debate about some random, minor issue. In the end he made point that even though my experience would show X, X isn’t necessarily true because my life experience isn’t really that broad yet. I took this with a grain of salt, not really believing him. I mean c’mon, I’m a college student at a university with 40K students from all across the world; I have friends I’ve met online from different regions of the country. I’m pretty broad, right?

Problem is, over time as we amass friendships and connections, we tend without realizing it to connect with people similar to ourselves. So yes, I’ve met people from across the US via the internet. But they are all the type of people who are okay with meeting friends via the internet. They tend to have a more technical perspective, be younger, and probably more liberal in views about social and technological issues. Yes I go to a school with 40K students from across the world. But how many do I really know?. A few hundred tops, and more like 20 to 40 more closely. And nearly all of them I have met doing things I was interested in, such as playing HvZ or in class. Whenever you meet people while doing something you’re interested in, those people are going to be similar to you in at least some ways.

The fact is that we tend to live in a bubble of our own world view. Our perception is warped by the fact that most people around us tend to have similar beliefs and find similar things interesting or funny. It’s only when we step out of that and starting hanging out with people who are very different that you realize how unrealistic our worldview might be.

I was made more aware of this over the past few months by the romantic relationship I’m involved in. Over the summer I decided to try my luck with online dating. I met someone and it’s worked and we’ve been together for almost three months now. It’s great, but there have definitely been some unexpected differences between us. She is far outside my normal realm of people. She’s not a geek or nerd, not a technie, not a political activist, etc. But that’s great because it’s shined a light on some of my own preconceptions and forced me to re-evaluate things I took for granted as universal.

Said things are inconsequential for the most part, but it demonstrates my point. Just because you and everyone you know “know” something, doesn’t really mean that it’s true. Because even though it feels odd, the fact is that you and everyone you know is a rather smaller circle than one might think. I challenge you to find some way to peek outside of your bubble. You might be surprised what you find.