Division across different parts of society seems to have increased in recent years, even in regions where people used to agree on most things. The United States is one example, where there appears to be a great divide between “Red States” and “Blue States”. Similar ideological divides have arisen in other parts of the world – whether it is between Left and Right, Progressive/Conservative, etc.
These differences can also flare up on a more local scale, for example at work, or among friends and family. One side seems convinced their point of view to be correct while the other side is crazy, and vice versa.
So how can these extreme variances in perspective co-exist simultaneously and how can we manage these differences in our personal lives to achieve greater peace and unity? To answer this question, we have to consider the concept of reality bubbles.
What Is A Reality Bubble?
The basic idea is that in today’s information age, we receive an immense amount of information every day from our computer screens and smartphones whereas in past generations, we received most of our information from real life human interactions.
Each of us is now able to filter the information we receive, based on the groups we join, influencers we follow, news sources we read, or shows we watch. All of this information has created distinct reality bubbles which shape our beliefs.
The effect is in some way similar to different religious groups – if you had been a Catholic your whole life, you would think one way, while if you had been a Muslim your whole life, you would think a different way. The differences between them arose from the information each person received – what they were taught, who they believed, and which information they were told to disbelieve. The information we receive creates our beliefs and has a huge impact on the way we see the world such that we form a reality bubble based on those beliefs.
Modern technology has globalized this reality bubble effect and has created peculiar divergences between various points of view. This has created a concerning trend toward censorship and mis-information police, as one point of view seeks to literally silence the other point of view. “Science” is supposed to be the neutral party and provide the “real truth” but anyone who thinks deeply knows that science is constantly evolving and does not have any real grasp of the objective truth.
Furthermore, corporate and special interests spend billions of dollars attempting to influence these reality bubbles to their favor. They do this through advertising and sponsorships but also through sponsored research, lobbying, and many other influential and often devious tactics designed for profit.
The result is a divided society where people feel threatened by other people who don’t agree or even believe in the version of reality the other abides by. This scenario is very akin to past religious conflicts, where people simply cannot stand the idea that someone else would not agree with them on points that are fundamental to their very identity.
Differences in beliefs cause arguments across social media and deepening divides across the political spectrum. We can see it in contentious political races, or, as in the case with the Russia/Ukraine conflict, violent confrontations can emerge. If you ask the typical Westerner what their thoughts about the Ukraine conflict are you will get one answer, but you will get a much different answer if you ask a Russian, a Chinese or an Indian. Who is right? Of course, everyone is right from their perspective. But many people just don’t seem capable of acknowledging that two different opposing viewpoints are both “right”.
Why are humans so threatened by people who don’t agree with them? It comes from a desire to fit in and be part of a tribe. In the past, tribes were a form of security and belonging, which is a deep rooted desire in the human psyche. Historically tribes had a more physical aspect, whereas today our tribal nature has taken on a virtual aspect, based on tiny profile pictures and thousands of comments and likes. We want the approval of our tribe, so it benefits us to agree with our tribe and disagree with the “other” tribe – whomever the other tribe may be.
While it seems difficult to solve this problem given our current evolution in a technological-information-centric society, we can each do our part by recognizing that all of us are living in our own reality bubble. We have to accept the fact that another person is receiving completely different information than we are, and that is why they think differently than we do. It is not anybody’s fault and the other side isn’t stupid, it’s just that we are all drawn to different beliefs based on our background, social situation and many other factors. When you walk into another person’s home, you might not like their furniture and think their paint color is ugly, but does that make them “wrong” or bad or intolerable?
The point is we first have to accept that our reality bubble is not “the right one”. It is right for us, perhaps, but it is not right, or true, for anyone other than ourselves. Even your close family or friends whom you assume think just like you do, you have to accept that they don’t think just like you do, they have their own reality bubble too.
The best solution is to let go of your personal reality bubble, stop trying to force other people to accept your views, and start to accept others as they are. Each of us has to work toward finding compassion for another’s situation by recognizing and respecting their point of view. We can also work to find common ground and start there – almost any two people can find common ground if they turn off their social media feed and actually have a direct conversation.