Let’s talk about The Bubble. And by The Bubble, I mean… Prejudice.
Really? Must we?
Yes, we must. And I’ll tell you why.
I like to keep things “nice” around here, and I know that by bringing this up, I risk ruining everything. I know by the mere mention of the above P Word, it’s like holding up a “Haters Welcome” sign, no matter what stance I take. The subject is so emotional, so raw, so personal, it’s hard to even see past the word, and have a civil, let alone honest dialogue… which, ironically enough, is exactly why we need to talk about it.
The thing is, we are so, so good at talking… and talking… and talking- aren’t we? Especially when we are talking within the safe confines of our own little Bubble, where everyone thinks just like we do. In fact, we’re so good at it, the whole listening part has become incidental.
Who needs that mess, anyway?
First of all, it just wastes so much time. I mean, let’s be honest, all of the people we really respect and admire (by some coincidence) happen to already think just like us, so doesn’t it make much more sense to channel all that listening energy into something truly useful, like stoking the flames of our side’s fiery passion and “righteousness”? We can only do that, friend, by TALKING incessantly. Listening just screws up our rhythm.
And secondly, there’s the whole beautiful dynamic of life inside The Bubble.
We love The Bubble. It’s that wonderful place where everyone knows our names…
…like on Cheers…
…where they “get” us… where we don’t even have to explain what we mean, because in The Bubble, they know, oh yes, they do… It’s familiar. It’s comfortable. And the best part is, it’s custom made: I have mine, you have yours, and never the twain shall meet. Just the way it should be. And besides, even if we were to venture out, we already know what those “other people” in their inferior bubbles are going to say, and come on, who are we kidding, they’re not going to sway us! In fact, we’re actually doing each other a favor, by hunkering down on our respective sides. It just gets so awkward, you know, when we trip over our words, say something ignorant, or worse, just plain wrong, and show the world the ugly truth that we all have a lot to learn. Who, after all, wants to be openly corrected? Now, if we’re the ones doing the correcting, well, that’s a burden we don’t mind bearing, in fact, we often feel it’s our civic duty…
but to be on the other side
of it? Yeah, no thanks. No glory in that. It’s much easier to mean Tweet.
And much more instantly gratifying to burst someone else’s balloon.
It’s safer in The Bubble.
Of course, in our hearts, we know none of this is true.
We know we do not overcome hate with more hate. But we do it anyway.
We know we cannot communicate by refusing to listen. But we do it anyway.
We know we can’t possibly know all there is to know about people who are, for whatever reason, different than we are. But we act like we do anyway.
Why? Why do we do this?
I think we do it because we’re scared. Scared of being challenged. Scared of being misunderstood. Scared of being wrong. Scared of being rejected. Or worst of all, Shunned outside the Bubble. At least if I stay in my own Bubble, I know I have a place. But if I go out there… between the Bubbles, into uncharted territory where no man has gone before, I risk having no Bubble to come home to – I’ll be Bubble-less.
That’s a risk many of us aren’t willing to take.
And I get it. We all want to belong. In fact, we are wired this way, which is what makes us so darned tribal. So what if, instead of trying to pretend we don’t live in Bubbles, that we don’t have biases and preferences and yes, PREJUDICES that make us leery of associating with people we don’t understand… what if instead we, oh, I don’t know, maybe invited someone INTO our Bubble for a few minutes? Or better yet, visited them in theirs? What if we started on equal ground, knowing that we’ll both feel awkward, and probably say something ignorant or stupid or maybe just plain wrong?
What if we gave each other permission to be honest, and went from there?
Might our Bubbles expand a bit?
And oh, by the way, I wouldn’t recommend trying to do this with all humanity, as noble as that sounds. Maybe just start with one person. That’s a little more doable.
Besides, humanity is easy to love. It’s individual people that are the challenge.
You know, people like you. And me.
Quirky. Annoying. Weird. Wonderful. Bubble Dwellers.