Saturday, August 3, 2013

Who We Are: Part II

Welcome back to the idintify blog. 

After a few posts, it's time to return to the core of the idintify blog and redefine its objective:

A celebration of the written word, offering an apologetic position towards the human condition. The idintify blog offers a variety of equally valid, yet conflicting, perspectives through each post in an attempt to demonstrate that everything (and nothing) is true, and encourage readers to empathize with their enemies' point of view.

Like so many writers, I started this blog with the misguided intention of proselytizing. Not necessarily with the attempt of converting others towards my point of view, just so long as it was away from their own. 

Still, I attempted to deliver my thoughts evenhandedly. Despite the inevitable bias that is apparent in anything composed by a human being, I have always intended for the heart of this blog to be not a thesis nor a sermon, but a simple request: please, everyone, stop and think for a minute. Looking back at my previous posts, imagining how they came off to strangers, I felt like the writing missed the mark. The posts came off as statements rather than questions.

So I took a few weeks off, kept my mouth shut, and thought—if I'm going to talk the talk, I'd better walk the walk. I thought about the journalist's modus operandi: to present complex and controversial issues in a way that is fair, educational and accessible. I thought about what's tearing our country apart, how long it's been happening, and whether or not it's the natural order of things. One thing is apparent: everyone is certain they are right. I decided if I want to be a change, I'd better take a resoundingly different angle.

I let my mind roam further. Two things occurred to me, and one was obvious: we consciously disagree with our enemies because they challenge our values; subconsciously we disagree because our very personalities, our life stories, cannot possibly mesh with theirs: "How could they believe such an abhorrent thing with a sound mind? Don't they live in the same world I do?" The answer, as I will demonstrate in future posts, is no, they do not. Whomever they are.

The second, less-obvious realization deals with how we have come to shape our beliefs. Many of us go for years without examining the variables within our information sources. Social media outlets such as Facebook and Twitter encourage us to "hide" sources with which we disagree, creating what Ethan Zuckerman and others call a "filter bubble." 

Filter bubbles have existed for eons in one form or another, but the new consolidation of interaction fueled by digital feeds and pocket communication have only served to expand the problem exponentially.

The idintify blog firmly rejects this notion. How informed can we be if we are completely in control of what we are informed of?

Ethan Zuckerman: "Rewire: Digital Cosmopolitans in the Age of Connection"
appearing on WFMU's Too Much Information with Benjamin Walker 

"When we go to the New York Times we have the bias of the editors—what do they think is important? When we look for information via search, we have the bias of what we are interested in—we end up finding out a lot about what we already care about. If we're looking for information through something like Facebook, we have the bias of what our friends care about, and most of us have friends who are pretty similar to ourselves. We get trapped in these bubbles of homophony, a sort of self-love, of finding people who are like ourselves. I'm interested in how we get serendipity. First, we have to consider serendipity as being more than random. Serendipity isn't just the happy accident: serendipity is the unexpected insight that helps you with something that you're already working on, that helps you push forward on a problem, or find a solution from an unexpected direction...serendipity favors the prepared mind. I think it's absolutely possible to look at something and say, "I'm beating my head against this problem...I'm going to consciously yank myself out of this space and put myself in a different space, and look at what solutions are working in that community."

What We Propose
  • Encouraging readers to reconnect with the mystery of existence
  • Reminding readers that not everyone comes from the same place
  • Providing a unique, progressive alternative to a stubborn and selfish culture

What We Reject
  • Comfort Zones: ignoring the existence of a complex and chaotic world
  • The myth that everything is as it should be
  • Sacrificing relevance for recency: thinking fast instead of thinking wisely

Living in the information era, drowning in headlines and—far worse—the bigoted comments that flow freely in response to any and all news stories, I have, to a certain extent, abandoned one of my core beliefs: that human understanding, rather than empirical existence, determines a great deal of what we call "truth." 

Bear with me:

The availability of almost all information on the planet, thanks to the internet, makes life very confusing indeed. Because in between the reader (you and I) and the information itself is the fallible middle-man: the interpreter. This interpreter, whether a journalist, an advertisement or a religious zealot, skews the data (sometimes—no, often—without knowing it) in a way that favors some preconceived mythology.

To reveal the "truth" of the matter, we have to compare the middle-man's interpretations with as many other, conflicting interpretations as possible. It's only fair. Our culture is undergoing a dangerous shift, wherein we would do good to pause briefly and consider the other side of the story. 

What exactly happened on Thursday? Well, it depends on who you ask. Literally. This is what I want the heart of the idintify blog to be.

To conclude: When dealing with current events and political labyrinths, the new format of the idintify blog will take the form of a conversation between three or more different people. I admit, I am fabricating a dialogue, but I assure you my intentions are good. And as always, the comment field is wide open for feedback. Stay tuned!

Post Script:

The first thought, feeling, instinct that comes to mind is false. There is more than one mind in our head, and the loudest is not always the wisest; volume and frequency have an inverse relationship with Truth and right living.  

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