Bring World Together

How We Can Heal The World After 2016!

posted on: November 17, 2016. posted in: Mindfulness

Whatever your views. Whatever your outlook. Whatever you feel about the world in 2016... happy or sad... excited or uncertain... empowered or ignored... I think we can all agree that 2016 has been a year that will forever stand out in our history.

But in the future, our children will sit in history class with their holographic iPads open, and they will learn how 2016 was a year defined by division. It was a year when the media, and in particular 'social media', conspired to divide us into opposing tribes. Nurturing our differences, and massaging our fear and hatred for one another. 

Think about it. This year we've had...

Leave vs Remain, Clinton vs Trump, Black vs White, Christian vs Muslim, Elite vs Poor, Nationalists vs Globalists, Left vs Right.

2016 has been the year you choose your side. You choose your tribe. Then you ignore, shout at, or even attack those who aren't in it.

And how better to generate clicks and newspaper sales, than to encourage and develop these dichotomies? Add to this the fact that Facebook and Twitter fills our personalised news feeds with the stories and opinions that appeal to us individually, and you have a recipe for narrow-mindedness and intolerance.

intolerance. noun. unwillingness to accept views, beliefs, or behaviour that differ from one's own.

"Yes!! Those Leave voters are so intolerant!"

No. I mean intolerance on ALL SIDES of these various debates.

At the same time as a Leave voter is glued to her Twitter feed, reading story after story about crimes committed by immigrants, a Remain voter is glued to her Twitter feed, reading story after story about crimes committed against immigrants.

At the same time as a young black man is glued to his Facebook feed, reading story after story about white on black crime, a young white man is glued to his Facebook feed, reading story after story about black on white crime.

And it doesn't matter whether you are Leave or Remain, Clinton or Trump, Black or White, Christian or Muslim, Elite or Poor, a Nationalist or a Globalist, on the Left or on the Right...

Your news feed will show you the stories YOU want to hear.

The stories that pump up and validate YOUR world view.

The stories that make you feel like YOU'RE RIGHT.

Even. When. You're wrong.

And so these individually tailored stories create an 'echo chamber effect' that only serves to harden opinions. To deepen divisions. To strengthen our allegiance to our chosen tribe. And perhaps, most damagingly of all, to fuel our intolerance of, and refusal to listen to, those who belong to opposing tribes.

We no longer debate. We no longer discuss. We no longer listen to each other or share ideas. Instead, we close our minds, and teach our news feeds to filter out and ignore those opinions don't match our own.  

Now what's interesting for me as an online personal trainer and nutritionist, is that the exact same thing has been happening with FOOD. There is deep division in the nutrition world, and the emergence of "extremist nutrition tribes", as a direct consequence of this social media, echo chamber effect.

We have Low Fat vs High Fat, Low Carb vs High Carb, Paleo vs Processed, Clean vs Dirty, Meat Eaters vs Vegans.

The same dichotomies and hardened opinions that are forming in the political world, are also forming in the nutrition world. With personalised social media news feeds driving people to become more and more militant about their perceptions of what we should and shouldn't be eating...

Completely ignoring individual differences and needs.

If you believe in Veganism, you will follow and like certain Vegan pages, so your personalised news feed will be filled with articles, blog posts, stories and recipes that serve to strengthen your allegiance to the "Vegan Tribe", whilst filtering the approaches and opinions of other nutrition tribes. The result is a kind of "nutritional intolerance", an "us vs them", or even a "we're better than them" mentality.

And of course, this is true of Meat Eaters too, who look down on Vegans as some kind of lesser species. So social media and personalised news feeds are driving a kind of modern day tribalism that is rife throughout nutrition and politics.

But here's where it gets dangerous.

What happens when your allegiance to your tribe becomes so strong that you stop questioning it? What happens when your support for your tribe becomes so passionate, that you will defend it, even when it is clearly wrong?

The Remain voter who refuses to listen to any potential flaws in immigration. The Leave voter who refuses to listen to any potential benefits of immigration. The Vegan who refuses to listen to any potential health benefits of eating meat. The Meat Eater who refuses to listen to any potential dangers of eating meat.

In the new world, that is the online world, it has become too easy to FILTER OUT and ignore opinions that don't match our own, which almost always leads to "Us vs Them" intolerant thinking.

Well, here's my take on it, for what it's worth.

I spend my days teaching people that nutrition isn't Black and White. Nothing in the world is Black and White. Even people aren't Black and White, but a spectrum of different shades. Equally, opinions and perceptions of the world come in a wonderful spectrum of colours.

So why are we allowing social media to convince us that we need to belong to one tribe, one shade, then filter out and be intolerant to all others? Why are we allowing social media to feed and breed single-minded, black vs white, intolerant world views?

Surely social media should be bringing us together?

The truth...

Social media is TEARING THE WORLD APART.

The solution?

To listen. That really is it. To listen. Or at least to stop reading and sharing the stories and the hype that is designed to divide us, and instead start using social media to talk to each other and TO LISTEN to each other. Inviting debate and discussion on our walls, and genuinely thinking about and embracing what others have to say.

Social media can be used to DIVIDE.

Or it can be used to UNITE.

It's up to us how we decide to use it.


Liam

p.s. Think about what you believe in and your news feed. The chances are it matches, pumps up and validates your world view. But does that make your world view right?

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