Remember the good old days of bar fights before they could be settled by whipping out the handy dandy pocket Google?
Well I don’t- I’m on the tail end of the Millennial generation, so I’ve had an iPhone longer than I’ve been going to bars.
What I do know is we live in a world of eggshell tip-toers and stompers.
Let me explain. There’s the stompers- those who spread their (often hostile) opinions everywhere they go, with seemingly no awareness of the impact they have on those around them, and often the society at large. And then there’s the tip toers. The nice ones. The ones that are so consciousness of everyone’s feelings that they’re scared to use their voice. To say what’s on their mind.
So where’s the middle ground?
We’re terrified of offending each other- and for a good reason. We’ve done an insane amount of damage to our fellow humans throughout the course of our history. It’s sick and disgusting, beyond inhumane. And it’s not ok.
Now we’re emerging into this age where we have this incredible gift of rapid communication. We can see live news updates of Chile from the comfort of our couch in California. We can see what’s happening at a music festival in Amsterdam from our desk in Arizona. We’re quite literally, all connected. We have the ability to make friends through a screen that we may never meet in real life. Which is beyond cool.
Thanks to the internet, we can learn just about anything we want with a few clicks of a button.
There’s a humanizing element to this. Our “enemies” look less and less like foes, and more and more like humans. Seeing the ins and outs of someone’s daily life tends to take them off whatever pedestal we’ve put them on. Or lifts them up from whatever place we’ve demonized them. So now we understand this common ground of being human, and can start conversations from this place. But what happens when that conversation doesn’t go the way we want it to?
Flashback to the egg walkers. Are you a stomper or a tip toer? Wherever you may land on the eggshell walking spectrum, it’s easy to see how polarized our views have become. Or maybe they always have been, but now we have the resources to change that.
There’s a term- confirmation bias. It sounds just like what it is. We look for information that confirms or validates beliefs we already have. And this is totally normal. It’s human nature- in fact animal nature- to gravitate towards things we know. Things that cater to our beliefs, habits, and understanding of the world. Who doesn’t like to feel comfortable? But this is bigger than slipping on a pair of philosophical fuzzy socks. This is about changing the way we interact with our fellow Earth-mates across the globe.
Friction and discomfort creates growth- it’s the law of this planet. Look at Earthquakes- yes they may cause massive amounts of destruction from our eyes, but they are the Earth’s way of realigning. Of finding its way back to some sort of balance and equilibrium. Growing pains. Remember those? They would keep me up for hours at night, but now I’m a cool 5’7” (on a good day). Birth? Oh yeah, arguably one of the most intense sensations and experiences that a human can go through- but it’s how we arrive on this planet.
What does all this have to do with disagreeing and eggshells? The point is- discomfort is a necessary part of growth. Sometimes the worst kind of discomfort is the emotional kind. Having your world views being challenged. Everything you’ve ever known- shattered. A tad bit dramatic? Yes- but you catch my drift.
When we only surround ourselves with people and content that we agree with (thank you social media algorithms) we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to be challenged. To grow and deepen our understanding of each other. We get stuck in our ways, and we become stagnant.
The power of our voice is one of the biggest gifts we have. The ability to express abstract ideas and deep emotions. Arguably an even bigger gift, is giving up that voice. Giving someone else who may not have the same privilege or willingness to speak up- a platform to express themselves with, a willing ear to listen, as well as an openness to change.
It’s not just the quiet ones we need to listen to, it’s pretty much everyone. That one coworker that really irks you, ask them what’s going on in their life. That uncle that always says the off kilter remark at family dinners. How about that woman at your yoga studio that you avoid eye contact with for fear of entering a gossip portal? Try to dig beneath the surface. What is going on beneath the complaints, the annoyance, and the fear?
What point of friction is this creating in you? As difficult as it is, there is always a chance for growth. A chance to peel off another layer of armour, and allow more knowledge of the world to soak in.
Disagreeing sucks sometimes. It can be incredibly uncomfortable. And sometimes it’s the people that are least likely to do it, that may have the most valuable things to say.
But guess what? The goal is not consensus. We’re not all going to get along. We’re not all going to agree. And that’s beautiful. That’s what makes this world so diverse. We’ve been conditioned to believe that the point of arguing is to convince someone to take your side. How about a heartfelt disagreement where no one takes sides, but you gain a deeper recognition of those around you?
So let’s throw out the eggshells and get to talking, or really- to listening. Strike up a conversation with someone you normally wouldn’t, go to a new activity that’s totally out of your element, hang out in different neighborhoods and see who you end up interacting with. And stay curious, really curious about what people have to say.
My family taught me that everyone has a story to tell. We never know where someone is coming from, until we ask. And that everyone has something valuable to share with the world. So I’d like to know, what’s your story?
I would love to hear from you. Interested in copywriting and articles for your health and wellness business? Find me at natashaweiss.com