Friday, October 8, 2010

I Love Haters (and How You Can, Too!)

I fall in love easily. Just look at my following count on Twitter. Every time I turn around, there’s a new brilliant person with crazy ideas and big thinking, expressing wit and irony with every post, visual creators living in color and dreamers spouting imagination and thinking into the creative stratosphere. I love everyone.

Or at least, I think I do. Of course, I’m being fed people like me. No wonder I love them. They think like me. Live like me. Work like me. I’m a ranter against homogeny and here I am creating a virtual world of people like me. Uh oh.

Social networks should have the ability to feed us people unlike us with dissenting opinions, different life perspectives and well, maybe people and ideas we don’t ‘like.’

I want it to be easier to see the other side of my opinion. My world is being colored by a socially fed optimism, a collective belief that the world is improving. That we all share a bright, shiny, democratic, creative view of the world. And when I hear a differing opinion, I balk. I balk not because I don’t want to hear it, but because I’m beginning to believe my socially delivered world is a real picture. And it’s not. How do we find dissension when our lives are constantly being endorsed by our networks?

There’s beauty in opposition. I crave it, honestly, and I see it slipping away. From a sociological perspective we should all be concerned our ‘liking’ and ‘following’ is eroding reality. Are the polarities in the world growing larger each day? Is there a giant vibrating world of hate collecting on the other side of my spectrum?

How do we bridge the chasm? Crowd thinking is beautiful, indeed, but is it endorsing a homogeny we might fear in the future?

Here are some ideas to embrace difference:

  1. Seek out the opposite.
  2. Talk to someone unlike you and engage them in debate.
  3. Visit a virtual community outside of your comfort zone at least once a month.

What are yours?

Photo credit: pasotraspaso via Flickr Creative Commons


WILLIAM said...

I think this may be one of the best posts I have ever read regarding this topic.

"Is there a giant vibrating world of hate collecting on the other side of my spectrum?" To you it may seem like hate but to the people in that vibrating world opposite of yours, they see it as world of Like minded people and you are the hate.

Gretchen said...

Thank you, Bill. I like how you think -- damn, there I go again. I am the hate. So beautiful.

It was obvious to me during the election when my Obama posters kept getting swiped from my lawn. My first thought was that people just wanted a piece of memorabilia and then a neighbor erected a shrine to the opposition. I was stunned. I was stunned because I didn't know their opinions about the world. My cocooned, protected thought-bubbled place here in the social world had me assuming everyone thought the same. Well, I was happy to see the shrine and begin the debate. And I want more.

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