Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Within the Comfort of Our Safe Zones

July 19, 2018

HARRISON FORD



The image of the American trailblazer, bravely forging a path into the unknown, fades to a ghostly image in the bright lights of modern American glitz.

Today, the majority of the participants in the social media networks move tepidly against the backdrop of… of… well, many very scary things!!

It has become a commonplace to stay within the confines of what we already “know” whether it is correct or not and never bother questioning whether it is correct or not. Our opinions matter so much more than… well anything else, especially something like facts.

Opinions have become the new brand of “truth”.

It is like those friends – and I’m sure most of us know these – who claim that someone is fat or ugly or stupid and, to soften the blow, claim it is because they alone are the one friend who will speak the “truth” to you.

Who ever believed opinions were “truth”? How did this ever become a thing?

During the 2016 election cycle, this was displayed quite publicly on the large public stage.

While I was ranging far and wide to learn as much as I could about the various candidates, the issues, and so forth, I received the same messages from differing sources. I mean, I kept hearing all the “bad Trump” messages from left-leaning friends and the “crooked Hillary” links from my more conservative associates.

I would post and link what I found to be cohesive and intelligent views from all sides during the period. Green party, Libertarian, Republican, Democrat, and quite a few independent or undecided sources; whatever I found of interest to the greater issue, I would share while my friends were stuck on a one-tone throughout the debacle.

Why are these people so quick to judge and so reticent to actually do anything like independent research?

First off – TIME.

Doing your own research takes a lot of time. Being a fast reader, I can breeze through this stuff rather quickly. Others sometimes struggle through pithy political punditry or pedantic posturing, trying to find some sense in the mess.

Memes are so much easier than anything like actually “reading”.

But even though some of my friends read a lot, they generally read only those articles that merely reinforce their previous opinions, their “truth”. When reading articles they disagreed with – found very uncomfortable to read – they flatly rejected them or, most often, ridiculed them. When put to the task of clarifying the points they found objectionable, the response was usually “all of it”.

Maybe it’s just me, but I doubt I can read any lengthy article (on any subject) and fully agree with the author on all points. I sometimes even do not completely agree with the stuff I’ve written when removed a year or so from it… yes, my opinions morph over time. I actually thought that was normal!

When the assault occurred on the alt-right speaker Richard Spencer, the internet exploded with “Punch a Nazi”.

A wave of self-congratulatory flag-waving ensued among the collective intelligentsia as if some mighty blow had been made against the assembled forces of evil.

It was humorous to watch. Even if it gave me an uneasy feeling. It reminded me of a period in history when, after the death of Lincoln, anyone who said something bad about the late President was liable to be shot dead. And there were many killings “claimed” to have been for this reason although no investigation was done.

When the mob intelligence (what an oxymoron!) rules, mayhem ensues.

But I digress…

What is the cause of this retreat of our consciousness into our imagined “safe spaces”? Why this refusal to step beyond our comfort zones?

No man is an island, the old saying goes, but we are becoming more so every day. Stuck in echo chambers, hearing our own thoughts regurgitated by others, constantly reinforced, it is hard to see beyond the veil of consensus to ever glimpse some truth beyond the pale.

Is this a by-product of our education system?

The strict enforcement of “only one correct answer” thinking leads to a society that can no longer think.

And neither Bill Gates’ questionable agenda in that regard or the leadership of Secretary DeVos seems to be working toward any relief to the growing problem.

The result will be more and more enlarged comfort zones, people incapable of robust thinking, polarization of ideas, and inability to find their way around a negotiation.

In complex situations, those who do not comprehend – in depth – the data and motivations of all the parties involved, are doomed to be the frantically screaming sidelines seeking out passive Nazis to sucker-punch before running off cackling like a loon to post their “blow against evil” on their Facebook page.

Where are the trailblazers from whom we sprang?

And from where sprang these…?




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Empowering Girls in Math and Science

December 30, 2012

I have been speaking about education for a while now and, though I hate to sound like a one-trick pony, I will probably be talking about it more. It is a very important subject and far too important to let it slip into mediocrity.

The struggles in the Middle East to allow women to be educated at all has gotten a lot of news in the past few months. In Afghanistan, Najia Seddiqi, was murdered on the way to work and two months earlier, in Pakistan, Malala Yousufzai was shot in the head on a bus. Malala survived the attack but Najia did not. The theocratic regimes in that area of the world would like to keep women from any education whatsoever.

In our country, things are quite a bit different. Women are educated. But still they are not encouraged to delve into the fields of science which remain predominantly male. There are many women in these fields today but they still remain a small percentage of the professional population.

Fortunately, there are “activists” in our country who are actively promoting scientific careers as a choice for girls. If their curiosity carries them toward one of the technical fields, their sex should not be a stumbling block, or a road block.

There are many resources on the web for various groups around the country (and the world) who are actively creating programs, curricula, and training materials toward this end.

One I recently came across was on facebook called Empowering Girls in Math and Science. Just like the title of this entry. It also displays a different focus in educating children: play. That is a more appropriate style than drill-and-kill. But that is a different topic.

Regardless, the female of the species has as much right to every opportunity afforded the male of the species. And, biologically speaking, even more of a right.

But maybe that’s just me.