Bubbles. So much fun for all ages to create and send off into the air. Today there are many ways to make bubbles, unusual bubbles, huge bubbles, odd shaped bubbles. Maybe you have had fun creating bubbles recently or sometime in the past. Summer is a great time to send bubbles into the breeze. They can float so peacefully, and pop so unexpectedly. Little kids chase them and giggle delightedly.
On a recent animated children’s program, the main characters got caught in bubbles that carried them off to places they didn’t want to go. That got me to thinking about the bubbles that I put myself in and where they might be taking me.
In a book titled “Filter Bubbles,” author Eli Pariser urges social media and internet users to be aware of “bubbles” they are put into by the unseen website algorithms. He reports that users get less exposure to conflicting viewpoints and are isolated intellectually in their own informational bubble by the website algorithms selectively guessing what information a user would like to see based on information about the user. I have seen this happen. After doing a search for something on the internet, I can then find myself getting ads for related products popping up on my screen.
Even less “distant” than this phenomenon is the fact that I often intentionally put myself in bubbles of my own choosing. I don’t want to hear or consider the viewpoints of people with whom I disagree. This has happened even in family situations, notably around political viewpoints. This is not to say that I should give equal value to every opinion that comes my way, since I should weigh opinions and views against those foundational beliefs which I hold most deeply. If I want to help to explain my own beliefs to others, shouldn’t I be willing to hear their beliefs as well? If my beliefs have validity, will they bear the weight of scrutiny?
The good news about bubbles is that they are fairly easy to see through and to get out of if I choose to do so. Am I in a bubble that is keeping me shut off from important conversations? Do I want to get out of it? I need to consider choosing whether to reach out and stretch my self-imposed bubbles to see if there is something outside that is worth my time.
John 8:31-32 (NIV)
31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”