The Bubble

Bubbles are made up of the communities we inhabit both in the physical world and on the internet. Bubbles exist in the relationships we have with people and in our minds. We all live in a bubble of one kind or another. There is nothing wrong with bubbles really. Humans have thrived because of bubbles. We want to form tribes. We want to know what is right and what is wrong.

Living in bubbles means we run the risk of becoming an echo chamber and fearful of outsiders. This insularity can often be seen in internet communities (see Reddit for some fascinating case studies). While the internet is great for supporting a plurality of views it is very easy to situate yourself in a very specialized bubble.  On the internet you can set your life up in such a way that you only hear what you want and avoid real dissenting opinions. Additionally, you can have a whole community of people around you that support it.

When I catch myself sinking into black & white or groupthink I stop to take a look at my thought process. I try to emulate a professor I had in college who, when given an answer to a question that she had posed, would analyze and examine it without judgement. She’d ask for clarification, more probing questions and ultimately get the student to work through their own thought process and question their own assumptions. It amazed me every time she did it. So, during those moments I’ve sunk down into uncritical thinking I try to wrap my mind around an opposing viewpoint. I ask myself, “What is their thinking here?”. Not the straw-man argument that people argue against but, “what is their real argument?”. Most importantly, once I begin to answer those questions I refrain from drawing conclusions about that argument (a task that I still have trouble executing successfully).

This mental exercise is not necessarily so I switch my point of view but, it usually brings me back to a point where I can see that most issues are not black & white. There is a lot of gray area in life and I need to be ok with that. Once I loosen my grip on ideology and “being right’ and allow myself to doubt and question I find a lot more freedom. I find I understand people better too.

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3 Responses to “The Bubble”


  1. 1 bill December 6, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    I don’t think of it as a bubble. I think of it as a forcefield, defending me against all those vicious contrarian thoughs. Life is simple and peaceful inside my forcefield.


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