It’s all relative
Welcome to that awkward moment where the Facebook friend you can rely on to have their bottom lip out and their rant pants on a regular basis is trying to tell others Facebook isn’t for whinging and to stop their belly aching. You scroll down their page and wonder what you see that they don’t.
To that moment where another Facebook friend is espousing the values of the “Occupy Wall Street” moment with dizzying fervour, eagerly anticipating its arrival in Sydney and the changes it could bring as you suspect their passion, though well intended, seems so niggling as you watch the poor people mill around the shopping centre you live being brushed off by the same sort of people you see in the photos or worse still, buying the card for their signs.
All whilst a third friend continues to mourn the passing of Steve Jobs, pasting quotes of his ‘genius’ and calling on people to put pressure on Apple to donate a $1 from each iPhone sold in ‘Steve’s good name’ to cancer research as you remain completely aware Jobs was in reality, a hard guy to deal with, no genius and not known for having any interest in charity, even the one that could save others from the same fate as his own.
It’s all a bit of a mish mash being played out in an open arena. It can be tempted to stick a jibe or two in. It can make you wonder just how much of what happens do we choose to see as opposed to seeing what is really there.
But then it’s easier to remember its all relative. How you see yourself, I may not. What you care about, I may not, or at least, not in the form you are attached to. What gives your cause meaning may strike me as the most horrendous idea ever. Doesn’t mean either of us is actually right.
Through our nurturing, our own hypothesis on situations around us and experiencing life with all its own prejudice and inherent ugliness and captivating beauty, we build our own set of values and ideals which creates our value system. And that system of values or perceptions we have will only change if we as individuals allow them to. And you cannot just do that with words and links. When you share on Facebook, you just add to whatever perception someone has of you.
People make up their own minds well before you post your opinion on Facebook. And they will either have one of three reactions to yours- skim past it to the next bit because it appears irrelevant, respond to it positively because they share that value or insight or proceed to have their blood boiling volcanic argument with your commentary because the idea is objectionable to their set of ideals. The latter is especially true if you don’t know the person in question, such as on a forum or group page. Rarely will you educate unless you have friends who are already seeking to educate themselves.
There are two pretty simple explanations for this, and they aren’t exactly pretty.
Firstly, we value our system of beliefs highly because we don’t see ourselves as anything other than “right” and will continue to shore up our beliefs or vehemently rail against those who threaten them. Therein lies the appeal of “trolling” or watching “Today Tonight”- people respond strongly to their values being under perceived threat and go into protection mode, forgetting reason in most instances and just going on the attack.
It’s also why (for example) if you make friends with someone due to a shared creative interest and then give up on that and start inviting people on mass to tantric sex workshops all the time (true story!), or keep banging on about how Apple are not to blame for Chinese worker suicides or using teenage labour to make a bigger profit because separation from ownership from Apple products doesn’t allow for critical analysis of their practices to the point where every time anything that questions Apple ends up being posted is sledged, violently opposed and greeted with personal anger (another true story!), you’ll find you get de-friended pretty quick.
Secondly, there is this little thing called ‘intersection frequency’. It’s basically about asking yourself if blue cars stand out more to you because you are taking notice of them, or whether you are indeed coming across more blue cars than before. It can be something that helps us see something as important and worth checking out, or make us feel as though it’s encroaching and a source of threat. Part of this can be the more you are exposed to different ideas and from people of different ways of life (no matter what that might entail), the more accepting and open to new ideas you generally are. Conversely, if you exist only for situations that reflect your exact values all the time, the less likely it is that you will be OK with things that are different. You don’t ‘intersect’ with something ‘frequently’ and therefore it can seem really alien, odd or even wrong to you.
You can see that in country people saying “I hate Sydney” even if they have never been there, people of limited education resenting people who use big words, people who play it safe being horrified by people who take risks, those who believe way of life is the better one using it as a means to measure and judge other people’s success and so on. It can be hard to understand why someone would willingly choose a different route to you, or not see what you see.
Unless of course you can acknowledge its all relative and that someone somewhere might be looking at you with a raised eyebrow- and that that is perfectly fine too.
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