DeFrates column: Try taking your Prius out of your bubble
August 21, 2017
A few months ago, I wrote about the danger of being unaware of our own filter bubbles. As a quick review, filter bubbles are a phenomenon that are not new, but that continue to widen the dangerous gap between modern political ideologies by letting us think that all the reasonable people only agree with us.
Social circles, education, internet algorithms and geographical location all work to shield us from the thoughts and realities of "the other side." Much of my piece last time around was aimed at a few of my favorite conservatives.
But today I wanted to touch on the geographical aspect of filter bubbles, because I actually heard someone say a few weeks ago that we don't live in a bubble here in the Roaring Fork Valley (Carbondale specifically). And I just couldn't let that slide.
So I thought I'd draft up a quick test, and you can decide for yourself if you live in a bubble.
You might live in a bubble if:
Your children have spent more time in other countries than they have in other states.
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You regularly leave your house or car unlocked.
You only break a sweat for fun.
You have time to heatedly debate exactly what qualifies as "privilege" over a $14 six-pack or home-brewed kombucha.
You spend more than two days a week engaged in activities relegated to the pinnacle of Maslow's hierarchy: self-actualization. Just look on the Carbondale Facebook page for a current list of offerings.
You can afford an all-organic diet, or you have the time to grow it yourself.
You have ever bought a $4 coffee drink while wearing your $100 road bike clip-in shoes.
You have time to wonder if you need all the stuff you own.
You are offended by this list because you have at least two token Republicans on your friends list on Facebook and reject the idea that you live a bubble.
You have repeatedly sighed, "I can't understand how anyone would think …" in the last few weeks.
You equate your political ideology with the indisputable moral high ground.
Yes, this tongue-in-cheek quiz is aimed at the liberal end of the spectrum because that is the one I know best, and yes, I have to admit that I definitely live in a bubble based on my responses. I am, however, also getting tired of being surrounded by a community where everyone is determined to agree with each other that a lifestyle centered tightly around intellectual liberalism is the only best one.
We tend to celebrate how "woke" we are, how engaged and how excellent it is to be surrounded by people who all feel the same way. We can all congratulate each other for how right we are, but this solves nothing in our own struggling America.
So before you whisk your family away to soak up the culture of another country or before you roll your eyes at all the families in line at McDonald's (because don't they know better?), I suggest you travel a few hundred miles away or even less, and pass the time with your own countrymen and women who you say you cannot, for the life of you, understand.
Park your Prius in the middle of sea of Dodge, Ford and Chevy trucks, and take a moment to soak up how out of place you feel. You don't even have to learn a new language or update your passport to feel like you have stepped into another country. And isn't that diversity?
In one of my favorite books to both teach and read, "Ender's Game," by Orson Scott Card, the young protagonist discovers that the only way to beat an enemy is to completely understand them. He succeeds brilliantly, of course, exterminating his opponents, only to learn too late the complicated truth that when one truly understands anyone else, one cannot help but love them.
So instead of perfecting the penmanship of our "Love" protest signs, we should instead be acting on the word by learning about the reality, culture, history and hardships of those who live far outside our little bubble.
Lindsay DeFrates lives in Carbondale and writes a monthly column appearing on the fourth Tuesday of the month.