We shouldn’t be parochial. The Internet gives us amazing access to knowledge, new perspectives, and communities we never knew existed. It’s Asimov’s Encyclopedia Galactica and more. Yet, somehow, many people end up listening to the same people, reading about the same topics, and moving barely inches from tightly held positions.
Part of this is tied to how flooded we are with information. Part of it is natural, as our brains work to avoid dissonance. And part is technical, as search engines provide us only with what we are allegedly interested in. (See the marvelous TED Talk on “The Filter Bubble.”
As writer’s we need to be aware of this since it can make our work stale and repetitive. One way to stay fresh is to consciously explore things that don’t interest us. We need to connect with people we disagree with and people who have very different experiences and worldviews.
- We need to be open:
- To listen
- To avoid judging
- To offer respect
- To overcome fear
- To walk in others’ shoes
- To learn, continually
While it is possible to stay in a narrow worldview and succeed by deepening it, even this approach benefits from being challenged by other possibilities. And for most writers, startling perspectives can shock us out of complacency and lead to new insights our reader hunger for.