Do you see your friends as fellow conspirators?
It’s weird to think that your friends might be hiding something from you, or that you might be doing the same from them. But you do, and they are.
You and your network are a system. You keep the good stuff and let it be spread through you, but you get rid of the bullshit and keep it from being heard, the same way your body weeds out and kills viruses. For example, studies have shown that political bloggers mostly link to each other, not to opposing viewpoints, leading to an audience with more polarized viewpoints on both sides over time.
Everybody is always acting as everyone else’s gatekeeper. I’m ok to introduce X person to Y, because I feel that X offers value, but I won’t introduce Z, who seems like he’s just in it for himself.
Your colleagues may not seem like filters to you, but they are. We naturally weed out what we dislike and grasp what we agree with, holding onto the stuff that strengthens our own internal arguments. In fact, we do the same with our friends, liking those that agree with us most, buffering us from those who may not agree with our worldview.
But here’s what’s interesting.
You used to hang out with your neighbours– hell, you used to know their names. But more and more, you’re hanging out with people you met online, who you met due to common interest rather than shared geography.
Friends that know through shared interest are pre-filtered, of course– they’ll agree with you because they are like you. If they weren’t, you wouldn’t have met them. But those that meet through shared geography are not, since you met them randomly, and they could be anyone. What does this mean for you and your frame of mind?
If resistance is what makes your body and mind strong, your brain is weakened by the lack of opposing forces. The same way that a body that isn’t used to the flu is more likely to get hurt by it (think 16th century Native Americans being wiped out by disease), your brain is becoming more and more out of balance, leading to over-development in one sense and frailty in another. Never mind lack of adaptability when encountering new circumstances.
You need to challenge yourself in a very serious way. Wipe out your RSS feeds and kill your Twitter followers– they are chosen by an old version of you that wanted yes-men instead of trusted advisors. If this is your kingdom, you need people that will challenge your views and, as such, keep you safe. How many people do you have like that now?
Some of the same friends I had when I was 17, I still have now. They’re very good at cutting me down to size, and I respect them for it. Do you have friends like this?
Maybe it’s time to find some.