Alternate Title: What’s crazy to you doesn’t faze someone else because of awareness
When you listen to a song, sometimes the significance of certain lyrics doesn’t hit you until much later. Or what you think it means and how that relates to you changes over time. Or perhaps you even consider multiple interpretations at once.
If you can relate to any of that, then it shouldn’t be too hard to see why what bothers you can go completely unnoticed by someone else. Awareness can be a tricky thing. We’re all constantly interpreting things differently and focusing on different lyrics (aspects of life). It’s no wonder communication can be difficult and trying to understand may feel like mental gymnastics.
Fragments of awareness
For any topic, it’s impossible to understand and acknowledge each perspective and detail. But, you can still build an acceptable level of understanding.
1: You acknowledge something exists. You may not believe it, but you’re aware it’s a thing. For example, an atheist doesn’t believe in a god or deity. But, they’re aware of the concepts.
2: You realize the thing affects you. The intensity, frequency, and results varies on a case-by-case basis.
3: You’re aware the thing may affect other people in various, sometimes subtle ways. Sometimes, this can be very difficult to notice since we all live in our own personal bubble. If we’re not also experiencing the thing or it’s not common knowledge to those around us, then a lack of exposure can make it highly unlikely that you’ll be aware of the thing. [Let alone pick up subtle cues.]
4 (the full triangle): You can see the bigger picture of the thing, including the ripple effect it has on a larger scale. Let’s return to the atheist example. God may exist. God may not exist. Believers can be good, bad, and everything in between. And the same for atheists. People have various reasons for their beliefs. And their beliefs do impact other people, whether for good or bad.
Examples of awareness
To be more clear, here’s two examples utilizing the fragments together:
- 1: You live in a specific place.
- 2: Your immediate options for people you can get to know in person are limited to where you live and nearby areas. If you live in a homogeneous area in terms of race, religion, culture, etc. then you’re not likely to meet someone on the street that contrasts that norm. You can also consider how your country’s laws affect you. Or how your country’s culture has shaped who you are as a person.
- 3. You can directly apply the stuff from #2 to other people too. Also, consider how living in your country may be viewed as positive or negative for someone else. For instance, how does race or gender influence their life? What about being a native versus immigrating? What is communication like where you live, direct or indirect?
- 4. Every place naturally has its own unique history and status quo. And its laws and common beliefs affect not only the people living there but can go on to influence people in other places too.
- 1. There’s a status quo.
- 2. If you don’t abide by the status quo then you may be considered problematic. Whether it’s disliking a popular movie or having an unpopular political view, someone is ready to judge you, or worse.
- 3. Depending on how someone doesn’t fit in the status quo they may be celebrated or attacked. Or they may end up compensating for being out of the norm in a way that leads to their success. Although, it could just build up a lifetime of disadvantages.
- 4. Everyone acts in favor of or against the status quo. In situations that are considered nearly unanimous, highly volatile, and/or of utmost importance, going against social norms is likely to be considered more shocking and have higher consequences.
Joining the fragments together
While it’s necessary to have a decent awareness of each fragment to see the whole triangle, it’s possible to realize any of the fragments without another.
Well, sometimes we’re vaguely aware “different” exists but not enough that we actually perceive it as its own unique thing. This easily applies in cases where people don’t fit in with a perceived unanimous status quo. Or sometimes we’re aware something exists, but can’t imagine or notice how it’s affecting someone in their day-to-day life.
That being said, usually, if someone is aware of #2 (that something is affecting them) or #3 (that something is affecting other people) then they also realize #1 (that a concept exists). The issue then tends to be whether someone realizes both #2 and #3. Again, everyone lives in their own personal bubble, so it can be difficult for us to acknowledge and recognize how something affects other people, especially those outside our scope. It’s very easy to go, “that’s not a real thing” as if the fact that something is affecting someone is nothing more than an “uninformed” or “ridiculous” opinion. It also can be pretty easy to go, “well, that’s happening all the way over there” and believe that it’s impossible for repercussions to reach you.
However, for any topic that you are able to grasp the different fragments of realization and see the full triangle, you offer yourself an opportunity to increase your understanding and maybe assist someone else.
Of course, by no means does this mean you’re all-knowing or that you won’t still miss things or make bad judgment calls. But, your potential for understanding and awareness increases the more you learn about something and its different facets and interpretations.
Understanding the lyrics
At the start of this post, I made an analogy about understanding a line in a song. And how just like we misinterpret or focus on different lyrics, we do the same thing when we communicate or try to be more aware. It’s simply easy to misconstrue or focus on certain things and then end up missing the big picture.
Honestly, it’s a side effect of being human. But, it can and does cause problems when this happens, so you should try to do better. The more you’re aware and understand, the more potential you have to make your life and the world a better place. So, why not?
[For anyone who wasn’t won over by the last paragraph, I have this perspective to offer: Based on my understanding of history and society as a whole, it seems that the more technology advances and social inequalities are challenged, that the average person will have more freedom and initiative to share their opinions or views on the world. As this happens, there will probably be more clashes and misunderstandings as we’re all “forced” to have our worldview expand. Unless Armageddon or such actually happens, I doubt we’ll permanently change course and return to the days when just because something was written in the paper, most people believed it to be true and that was that.
So, if you’re tired of the exposure to the vast amount of different opinions, extremists, or just some people losing their cool at what appears to be something insignificant… All I can say is that it probably won’t magically go away. Yes, take some time out for your mental health and sanity. But, remember that not only is everyone else figuring out how to cope with all the opposing worldviews, but that so is society at large. Either we reach a point in the future where there’s mostly common decency, a basic shared level of social awareness, understanding of critical thinking, and inclusion… or we don’t. But, likely the only realistic way we can achieve the former is by enough people effectively reaching out and bridging the gaps and differences.
And yes, I know that a lot of people are realistically a lost cause. But, you can never 100% know who those people are. So, just do the future of humanity a favor and try to be a better and more understanding you going forward.]