I have lost more friends in the last two years than I have in fifty, and I am confident that I am not alone. The Corona Virus pandemic has been a major source of our loss as some friends and family have either died or moved away to the suburbs or other states; just as painful is the loss of those friends whom we have alienated because we followed the science, wore a mask and isolated out of love for them and our family. The alienation went both ways as some friends embraced extreme anti-science, conspiracy theories which runs counter to the worldwide success of vaccines since smallpox in 1796. Isn’t it ironic that millions of us as children in the western hemisphere have been vaccinated to stave off life threatening viral diseases for at least eight decades – resulting in better health outcomes and improved life expectancy? Then something changed! It did not change overnight, it has been a gradual and sustained crusade by so-called anti-vaxers who articulate the potential danger of vaccines to man’s natural immunity, and their God given right to choose and decide their own medicine.
Are they within their rights to make this choice? Of course, they are! If we choose to live within the edicts and constraints of the Judeo-Christian philosophy, in which humanity is endowed by God as free moral agents, we are all free to choose our medicine. This certainly is not the first time that differences of opinion have arisen in the human family; our very existence is riddled with disagreements based on different viewpoints due to, experience, educational attainment and belief systems. So, what is it that has precipitated the new hostility, extreme polarization and tribal turbulence among family members and friends? What are factors in our lives that have changed so drastically in the last 30 years that has led to the fragmented and disagreeable relationships that we have been preserving all this time, despite our religious and political differences? After a careful look and study of the situation I have observed some new and disturbing changes in the pattern of our lives; these are changes that we can only control when we become aware of them. Absent that awareness, these patterns control us, and that compounds the problem.
Any number of respected writers and researchers have recently expressed concern about how we consume our daily diet of information and what we synthesize as knowledge; their findings, including my own is disturbing! New systems of information dissemination and consumption are being introduced in our lives through Computer Technology, Knowledge Bubbles and Echo Chambers in such a clever and subliminal manner, that they bypass our conscious awareness before we know it. So, let us examine the facts about your digital devices you might be missing while you focus on making a living. Do you notice that each time you effect a search on your smart phone certain ads pop up, and if you respond to those ads, similar one’s pop up? Do you also notice that you receive similar search options to the one you initiated? These are not coincidences; your preferences and choices are being recorded and digitized to develop a systematic profile of you and your future actions, and from thereon programmed algorithms will monopolize your search experience. For this not to happen, you must become aware of your every action on the web because the objective is to coerce and modify your behavior, attitude, opinion, and ultimate choice.
Several years ago, while teaching a class of diverse immigrant students, (nurses, administrators, psychologists and facility managers) I referred to the 80/20 rule or the Pareto principle and quickly realized that I was communicating from my Business Bubble. It is something we are all guilty of and should be acutely aware of its imposition on others as it promotes the “us and them” mentality which is counterproductive. The most egregious examples of the Bubble mentality are experienced religion and politics where people act out the divisiveness that has become America’s albatross.
Despite the danger of the bubble mentality and its negative influence on our relationships, even more dangerous is the Echo Chamber effect; this is when the participants in a bubble are helpless in exercising a choice in the information or opinions they consume. That cultic and slavish commitment to information consumption is what has landed us in the mess we are in today! The echo chamber effect dominates the media, politics, healthcare, and religion; every consumer of information needs to reset mentally if we are to restore sanity and comity in our relationships.
Clearly you and I are not the enemy, our enemy is our lack of awareness and the lack of commitment to protect and insulate ourselves from misinformation and disinformation.