Our expanded circles of connection and attention are praised continuously. No longer are we only, parochially, concerned about our families and villages, but the whole world.
Is that really a good thing, though?
What we are seeing thanks to connections everywhere, unfortunately, is not a rise in understanding. Rather, problems often don’t just affect the places they arise. We are all connected, and trouble spreads.
With it spreads the mutual finger-pointing, the blame game.
… Too Superficial…
And as we know just enough to assign blame, to see the most blatant, noteworthy, peculiar things of the ‘other’, chasms deepen.
We don’t even have to look at what Europeans and Americans know (i.e., have heard) about China or about each other. It’s enough to look within the US, within Europe, to see the stereotypes and misunderstandings. The divisions.
… Not Looking Closer
It would help to look closer here. To not think we know everything we need to know just because we have read something emotionally triggering on social media.
Things are probably more complicated and less clear-cut than they appear – as we would notice if we could and would look closer.
Chances are, we will not take that time and expend that effort, though. We will do what feels good and gratifies quickly.
We will read what is shared with us, share what agrees with our views. And we will ignore what contradicts.
The Other Closer Look
There is another way to look closer that would truly help:
Returning your gaze to your own life, surroundings, situation. Taking a break from the onslaught of information.
It sounds too conservative, reactionary, un-progressive. Don’t you want to be connected with the world? Contribute to the conversation? Stay informed?
The problem is that the feeling is misguided. Yes, it feels good to contribute to our side, fight the other’s wrong views. It pushes our emotional buttons. If it also gets likes, all the more so.
It does not help the world anything, though. And, it does not help your life.
Your life is helped by you taking some control over it.
Not just by checking “digital health” numbers such as your time online, but by getting to action. Action that actually does something good for you.
It doesn’t have to be anything outstanding, either.
Start by organizing your stuff, cleaning up.
Learn how to cook if you haven’t yet done so.
Do something for fitness that is not just for your looks but for your life.
Learn something new. Read books.
Plant a garden if you can.
The numbers of people who are affected by an epidemic, obsessively monitored, are not going to be any good for your mental health and wellbeing.
Wear a mask, be conscious of hygiene, get the vaccinations you can get, and you have actually done something that is in your power.
You do not have to care about the whole world, in the abstract that is the only level at which you can.
Care Where It Matters
Care about your life and your surroundings, your neighbors and community.
At that level, you can actually contribute – and hopefully, usually, in positive ways.
Worst case, you don’t know about numbers of infected in far-away places, which have absolutely no bearing on your life. In our “normality,” you don’t know about some superstars whose lives have zero importance for yours.
You’ll have done something, learned something, though. You will profit from that.