CULTURAL BLINDNESS: 2016 in REVIEW

If I had to characterize the 2016 in a two-word phrase, I don’t think I would come up with anything better than CULTURAL BLINDSPOT.

2016 has been about not seeing things. More importantly, it was about believing they don’t exist.

The term cultural blindspot here refers to our incredible inability to perceive our own values and meanings we prescribe to the surrounding world as being ideologically motivated and not fixed in time and space.

The best example of cultural blindness I had to live through was the evolution of the concept of businessman and business in general. 25 years ago, just after regaining independence we thought of businessmen as criminals who acted within the boundaries of law. But criminals nonetheless. In this sense, we regarded the magical process of buying and selling stuff as an inherently evil act that left some people worse off while others gained money as a result of it. Such an interpretation of what a business and/or businessman is was no different from the understanding of financial gains in rural communities in middle-ages: sudden acquisition of wealth in the village always meant that there was somebody who had to lose it and most probably you knew him/her by name.

Fast forward 25 years later and business skills are starting to be held in such a high regard that the majority of people would even be glad about entrepreneurial skillset being taught in schools. When you stop believing that the European Union or your state will be able to provide you with a high-quality of living in the future, business-minded starts to mean “being able to take care of oneself”.

What does this extensive example have to do with the cultural blindspot? The absolute certainty with which we prescribe meanings to things around us for one. The common element between the present moment and the one 25 years ago is the firm belief that the values we prescribe are fixed and universal.

So the blindspot is about several things:

A) Our inability to believe that the way of how we interpret things is going to change

B) The inability to perceive a radically different position in our beliefs and worldview

C) Thinking in radical viewpoints that are based on binary oppositions

In 2016 we continued to believe universally acceptable and righteous positions outside of which everything was just ravings and noise. Terms like echo chamber and information bubble are here to stay with us and remind us of the limitations of the values we prescribe to the surrounding world.

So If 2016 was about certainty, let 2017 be the year of doubt.