We all live in bubbles of our own making, where comfort zones and rationalizations make pretty, soapy swirls and a cozy, finite environment. The bubble effect is part of what makes the Bay Area great– a dogged sense of optimism, innovation, and tech glam in spite of grim global problems. That being said, a consumer technology article I read last week surmised that now that “we all” have access to high-speed wireless communications and pervasive online networks, the social-local-mobile model is just so passe. Now, we can set our sights on the next vision of the future!! *Orbitz girl smile*
I both love and hate this idea. It’s always good to look beyond the present and think big for the next step, especially when world-changing innovation could be just around the corner. But even in the Bay not everyone has access to revolutionary technologies (and no, that’s not a revolutionary idea). The gap in technology access and literacy is a huge challenge of our new future, along with plenty of other obstacles both known and unknown.
With the online experience being increasingly directed by personal preferences, I wonder if we’ll get more assured in our own perceptions and more comfortable with complacency. With ads, content, and services that reflect what we already like, I wonder if our bubble walls will thicken, blocking what doesn’t fit to preserve a picture we can accept. The true loss could be our capacity for empathy, a resource as crucial to human survival as currency and community.
If you’re covered in sticky stuff and the bubble wand has fallen in: never fear, help is here.
How to Escape a Bubble
1) Go outside.
Walk around in a neighborhood that’s not yours. Be open to the beauty abounding around you. Make eye contact with and smile at people on the street. Question the root of social conditions that detract from human dignity, even if they make you uncomfortable.
2) Solve real problems.
Not celebrity bullshit. Not the next Facebook. Not an easier way to order a soy decaf cappuccino while dropping off your dry cleaning while your dog is getting a facial. Refer to your brain and step one for inspiration.
3) Be your bigger person.
Take responsibility for your perspectives and their resultant actions. Being wrong and imperfect are functions of being human: embrace them by learning from them. We can all come up with a lot of reasons to defend our bad behavior, and I know I’m not the only one who has been caught on the awkward side of the “be the bigger person” formula. This was a great formula for kids as they learned social responsibility, but I think as adults, we can do better. Striving to be your bigger person is more honest in a world where our convictions are challenged constantly, where baggage is a reality and our perceptions are not founded in childlike faith and innocence. The best we can do is own up to our shit, heal it, and stop letting it mess with other people.
The great news is that TONS of people do this every day, all the time. It’s fantastic. And in spite of–and because of–our perpetual imperfections, it’s working. It is making the world a better place. People are finding incredible solutions to complex problems, and I believe we have the capacity to keep making our world better.
So…. do you remember the best part of playing with bubbles?