How we filter the world

There’s something that bothers me about the “I don’t want to see this” Facebook option.

There’s a cost to filtering out everything that makes me uncomfortable. There’s real arrogance at the idea of clicking a button to take away what I don’t want to see. I pretend to make it go away, but it doesn’t. It’s still there. I’m just not acknowledging its existence anymore. I’m removing my attention from it. And I am pretending that, by taking my attention away from this uncomfortable thing, I can make it matter less. Or matter not at all.

The continual use of filters to keep out everything that we don’t like or understand leads to bubbles.

Of course we do filter, incessantly and subconsciously, every bit of information we encounter.

Is there a way to consciously use filters to bring us to the things we should pay attention to? Not to burst our bubble but to expand it, to increase our awareness, to help us encounter newness and differentness in a way that is manageable, not overwhelming.

Information overload is a real thing, data is always flying, and no, we can’t do something about everything. And yes, we waste our attention worrying about things we can’t control.

However, we also have a responsibility to be aware, to respond, to be helpful, to learn. To see the world we live in, to see that it contains ideas and people and movements and philosophies and actions and systems that we may not understand or like or agree with.

If we can use our filters to encounter the world, in all it’s diversity and beauty and glory and unpredictability, that’s a good thing. But if we use our filters to avoid, to hide, to bury ourselves, that’s not good.