Social media shows us everything inside people.
A few years ago it became possible for people to take their clothes off and send pictures of their bodies using phones. People shared pictures of their own personal, physical “objective reality.”
“Look at me!”
Now people show us what their beliefs are, too. Every social media post gives a glimpse into the “subjective reality” of another mind. God? Democracy? Meaning of life? Each tweet reveals side-boob.
“Look in me!”
It’s all shown to us a flash at a time. What’s on your mind?
The stark blue-white of brain-selfies light up our inner worlds a few words at a time.
Mankind, a species that was often advised not to discuss politics or religion over dinner, never had this ability before.
We’re going to need to learn to adapt. Civilizations are, in the most basic sense, a sort of dinner table.
We agree to pass the peace. We agree not to stab each other with the salad fork.
If we’d like to continue to enjoy “civilizations,” it behooves us to learn how to “remain at the table” with those who want to show us their politics or religion.
“Look in me!”
We no longer really have the choice about whether or not we see the “subjective realities” of other people.
Certainly, we can run off and go live in the woods.
I considered that option many times. I would bring a bunch of books. Then, it occurred to me that books are simply “things people said.” Human beings wrote them, allowing me to pick and choose between the subjective reality of Vonnegut and Dawkins or Clancy. I had to admit to myself that I still wanted social interaction, and that running off into the woods with a bunch of books was “just a way to feel safe.”
Books are just interesting people you can shut up.
Going forward with technology, we’re faced with a world of people who are interesting and enraging. “Those people” are all sorts of things and we cannot make them shut up.
I think that compassion, as opposed to outrage, is the way to adapt to this new environment. I think it will allow us to grow societies. In fact, we may be able to heal many wounds that have pained civilizations since the beginning.
Compassion allows us to notice that, ugly or not, the minds of other people display… pretty much the same parts we all have.
There’s a left side, a right side. A head we can stick in the clouds, or stick inside other places.