The Insidious Bubble

Bubble

I was talking to a friend yesterday about our meditation practices. The observation we both made was that meditation, mindfulness, and related concepts were becoming more and more mainstream. What was once considered a fringe and somewhat “woo” activity had made its way into common discussions around everything from personal performance, to medical and mental health discussions.

But on one observation we differed in an interesting way.

I tend to practice alone and have picked up meditation over the last few years by self-study, and come at it from a secular, not-particularly-spiritual place.

I see it as brain training. Quite literally the practice of meditation and mindfulness is exactly that: practice. Practicing this skill improves the brains ability to focus, among other things. Turns out there’s a fair amount of medical literature that seems to back up this neurological perspective.

My friend had been part of group. He comment was that the group experience allowed her to experience meditation more deeply than when going solo.

The difference in our observations was this: she commented that as meditation was becoming more popular, people were becoming more spiritual. My take was just the opposite: as a result of my experience with meditation and my readings on it and related topics I believe that slowly — very slowly — people are becoming more secular and less spiritual.

It dawned on me that this could be a classic case of “the information bubble”, as it’s being called these days. I expose myself to literature, people, and practices that emphasize the secular approach to what I’m attempting to accomplish. The people she was exposing herself to in this arena came at it from a more decidedly spiritual direction.

In each case we derived our opinions of what was happening in the greater community by extrapolating from our observed experiences and information samples.

We each reflected what we’d been exposed to in our bubbles.

Realizing that helped me realize two things:

First: disagreement is most frequently the result of different experiences and information — different information bubbles. While we commonly think of this applying to social media and most specifically the political landscape, it really does apply much more broadly to all we experience and “know”.

Second: I could be wrong. My bubble of information could be skewed in such a way that it doesn’t really reflect a more objective reality.

If you grew up where they grew up, and you were taught what they were taught, you would believe what they believe.

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