In my life, I’ve held more than my fair share of cringeworthy views.
Some of these things had to do with reflections of my own self-loathing. Some of these stemmed from internalizing some of society’s oppressions, like transphobia, biphobia, homophobia, misogyny. Others were simply ignorance — sometimes willful, sometimes innocent.
Over the past couple of years, I began to dig deeper within myself to address the question of why I believe what I believe, and whether that was right. It starts with evaluating the biases that exist in the world and within ourselves.
Harvard’s Implicit Association Test is an interesting look at the implicit biases you may have.
And we all have some. Whether it’s on race, gender, mental health status, income level, or something else, we all have our own personal biases — and it’s good to know about them. These tests are a neat (and quick) look at that.
It’s okay to “fail” these tests, and it’s not your fault if you do! That’s the whole point: it gives you a point of reference to work from and improve upon. For example, let’s say your result on the race bias test indicates that you show a moderate automatic preference for European Americans (meaning that you’re implicitly biased against black people). With this information, you can begin to think critically about your encounters with people of different races, paying close attention to whatever your impulse is.
Some scoff at social media, claiming it’s little more than a time-suck. They’re wrong.
Or, rather, they can be wrong, provided you use it the right way.
Let’s say, that like me, you grew up in a sheltered suburb outside Chicago. Your youth was spent surrounded by other students who looked just like you, teachers who looked just like you, all the while learning a curriculum that paints historical figures who look like you in an artificially positive light. Let’s say that anyone who didn’t look like you was treated with suspicion by authority figures. Let’s say that you lacked the ability and/or desire to empathize with those others.
How do you break that cycle? After all, where you grow up really isn’t of your own choosing, the concept of normality you’re taught isn’t up to you, and you lack the reference point to see how flawed your views can be.
Now, thanks to social media, it’s possible to live wherever it is you are and connect with others virtually anywhere in the world. It’s possible to learn the history you were never taught in school. It’s possible to see the world for the vast, diverse bit of awesomeness it really is.
Only in taking a look outside of the small world you were raised can you begin to chip away at all the ways in which you’re clueless.
Here are 3 really simple things you can do on social media to expand your worldview.
1. Follow people whose views differ from yours in a major way.
This isn’t to say you need to agree with their worldview, just that you accept it exists. You’ll almost certainly find your initial understanding and assumptions were wrong (or at least exaggerated).
2. Shut up and listen.
You do not need to be the center of attention, and if you’re trying to see outside your box, you need to accept that. You cannot hear if you’re too busy talking. Follow, listen, but don’t insert yourself into their conversations.
It’s why I have the word “listen” tattooed on met arm.
3. Be open to the possibility that you’re wrong (or at least not 100% right).
And don’t be afraid to admit it to yourself and to others. There’s no shame in evolving your worldview.
So go on! Expand that worldview
Help make the world a more understanding place!