The Eastern Suburbs of Sydney has it’s own insular culture, fortunately tempered by a constant influx of back packers and ex-pats. I have a number of clients who have found themselves in these beach side suburbs and have not found a reason to leave. Generalisations of people who inhabit a particular area are almost always exclusionary. Meaning someone is bound to feel left out of, or invisible in a community that begins to define itself by its media and most visible members. You’ve heard the clichés; Bondi locals are the hipsters, Coogee locals the hard workers, Maroubra locals the underdogs. Of course there is the style and pomp of the Double Bay and Vaucluse locals as well. I’m sure this already has some of you irritated at what these labels exclude, particularly if you are the one being excluded.
Today I wanted to use this generalisation to draw everyone’s attention to that which social media makes visible and invisible. If you find yourself reacting strongly to a headline or becoming frustrated at the repeated exposure to someone’s holiday snaps, perhaps it’s time to ask the question, What is it that I am reacting to? If you’re sick of photos of your friends babies, does it mean they are shameless show-offs or are you looking for stimulation of a different kind and are finding that social media no longer serves that purpose? The fun part is that both of these answers might be correct, but only one really serves insight that you can work with.
Confirmation Bias is a phrase used to describe the phenomenon that occurs when we look for information in our environment that confirms what we already believe. Next time you share a news story on social media perhaps question the emotional motive that has your finger furiously tapping. Emotive states are important to inform our behaviours, but they should almost always be diluted with some solid thought. As example, I once heard an eminent psychology researcher tell a story of him as an eight year old. He had heard about a group of people who had died in a plane crash and had instinctively stated, “They must have deserved it”. His mother was understandably horrified, but what his most recent research revealed was the functional gain of that statement. That if that group who was harmed share a common “blame-worthy” set of traits, then he would be safe from the same fate.
How often do you pidgeon hole people to avoid association with suffering of any kind?