I’ve been blogging for a number of years and it never ceases to amaze me the types of people who follow my blog. You see they’re usually not even remotely close to my age group, my gender (although who can tell these days) nor my geography. So what is it that I say that resonates? I haven’t answered the question yet, but having recently gone on Instagram, I’m beginning to have a slightly deeper insight into the power of the hashtag, as well as the beautiful similarities in humans.
But there’s a disturbing side to the digital algorithm. I have certain world views, likes, dislikes and beliefs. So, when I search for stuff on the internet, I look for things that are within that framework. Even when I’m looking for something that’s outside of my belief system or values, I’ll most likely click on a link that on some sub-conscious level agrees with me. Then the internet starts serving me content in line with that. So what happens is that I begin to believe I’m right.
A flippant example is that I bought a pair of shoes online a while ago. I spent far too much time down a rabbit hole looking at various online fashion sites, searching for boots and viewed loads of options (I am a bit of a boot addict). Since then, on just about every digital space I go on, I’m served ads giving me seriously cute boot-buying opportunities. So, of course I think my taste is completely on point and that I must be right.
We live in a world where everything is accessible at the click of a button. All information is available. Seriously, if you know where to look, you could unlock all the secretes of the universe. Most of us just look a cute cat videos, but that’s for another blog.
Take a moment to consider what you’re being served, in advertising and in content. Does it reflect you? Do you feel a tiny bit self-righteous, knowing that the world must agree with you on a fundamental level because all the stuff you see is what you like and agree with?
It’s not just about boots, of course. It’s about opinions and behaviours.
If you believe in a certain stereotype (let’s say, white women in America all love Justin Bieber and spiced pumpkin lattes), you’ll probably have that stereotype confirmed to you whenever it comes up – because you’re conscious of those few facts. If you’re single and believe that makes you a failure, you’ll see things that confirm that belief.
So, how do you break out of a box you don’t even know you’re in? How do you find firstly the edge of your box and secondly the exit?
In Biblical times (and maybe still today), Rabbi’s chose their students not on how much they knew, but by the questions they asked. Questioning everything is the path towards wisdom. But it’s also a path towards acceptance (wisdom again, really).
But how do you know what questions to ask if you think everything you believe is true? Begin with one that may just take you down a tangent of true learning: ‘Is this unequivocally true?’ ‘Is this belief of mine an absolute, a universal truth, or just my truth.’ Try to disprove yourself. Not because you are wrong – not at all. A belief is a belief and its rooted somewhere. But, especially when it comes to what you think society is saying, about you and about others, it may not be completely true. The world isn’t black and white. It is most definitely a million shades of every colour in the rainbow and almost certainly contains way more than 50 shades of grey.
Then ask yourself how true the stereotype is of you. Whichever one you ‘fit’ into – how true is it? And if you don’t fit the description, then how many other people within other stereotypes also don’t fit?
And then, ask yourself, ‘Am I living within a stereotype that doesn’t quite fit me simply because I think that’s what I should be doing?’
Find the edge of your box, break through the confines that society has placed on you. Fly your own flag, beat your own drum, dance to your own rhythm. As soon as you begin that journey, you’ll find that the world will offer you a symphony of ideas, wisdom, love, joy, acceptance – fight against the algorithm; slip through the cracks of what you think about others and what you think others think about you.
Become a conscious being and then become a conscientious objector to the bullshit of the ‘right-ness’ that’s served to each and every one of us on a daily basis.