I’ve been mixing up my “media diet” over the past couple of months. It started with Steve Pavlina’s Deep Abundance Integration series (of which I’m currently in the middle of a second listen) and branched out from there.
The majority of my listening over the last few years has been tech, productivity and humour podcasts. But the DAI series flipped a switch in my head that sent me down a different path. So I’ve been listening to stuff that I wouldn’t normally consider being in my “wheelhouse”.
One of the best things it’s done is get me out of the echo chamber I’ve been in for years. I listened to things I was interested in, from people who tended to think the same way as me. A large chunk of the inputs going into my brain were reinforcing things that were already there.
And the internet just made it worse. Google serves up search results based on things you’re already looking at so it gets more and more one-sided the more you use it. Twitter and Facebook do the same thing, but even faster because I tended to follow people who thought like me and were interested in the same things I am.
Starting to open my mind to new things has been an interesting experience. I’ve had a lot of new insights over the last few weeks by listening to people who are outside my “circle”.
I don’t agree with everything they have to say, and sometimes disagree pretty strongly, but I’m finding a lot of great ideas mixed in with the things I’m not so crazy about.
Which is how it should work, incidentally. And probably did for most people until the internet and especially social media became so ingrained in our daily lives. It’s perfectly healthy to disagree with other people when you respect that they have some different opinions than you. That doesn’t mean you can’t still learn something from them.
Sure, there will be people whose ideas are so crazy or just plain wrong that there’s no point in trying to learn anything. But that shouldn’t be the first assumption as soon as someone says something you don’t agree with. Something a lot of Twitter and Facebook users could stand to learn.
One of the topics that has popped up in several things I’ve listened to is intolerance.
Twenty to thirty years ago, I was pretty intolerant. A lot of people think they know everything in their mid- to late-teens and early twenties, and I certainly thought I knew everything about how the world should work. Fast forward to about a decade ago and I’d say I’d become pretty tolerant. I listened to other people’s opinions and tried to accept different ideas than my own, even if I didn’t necessarily agree with them.
A couple of people I’ve been listening to lately have made the point that being tolerant means you’re tolerating something.
And tolerating something feels very different than being tolerant. If you’re tolerating something, you’re putting up with it. Which probably means you’re not happy with it.
I’ve been tolerating a bad marriage, an unsatisfying life, debt and many other things over the last few years. A bit more intolerance (okay, a lot more) in those areas would have done me a world of good.
One of the people I’ve heard discussing this took it too far for my taste. They went to the exact thing that jumps into my mind whenever people talk about being intolerant, the race card. His hypothesis was that tolerating other people’s civilizations within our own will lead to problems.
I don’t agree with that. I believe that all the people in the world are one race – the human race. That’s the sort of intolerance that I don’t buy into.
But when it comes to setting boundaries in my life about what I’ll allow other people to say and do, how I’ll let them dictate my lifestyle and how far I’m willing to bend to make other people happy at my own expense, some more intolerance will serve me well.
It’s better to live as your own man, than as a fool in someone else’s dream.