Because I enjoy change, and I enjoy life, I’ll share it here with my lovely audience of information experts.
The variance of billions of individuals is beyond
the ability of any single individual to comprehend.
The variables are many. The ones I care chiefly about are the ones that are the product of their unique sequence of experiences:
Identity, Values, Beliefs, Thoughts, Feelings, and Behaviour.
Consider the nearest person to you in space as you read this. That person’s Identity is wildly different from your own. Their values too. Different beliefs, different thoughts, feelings, and behaviours. Some probably overlap that you can identify. There might be quite a few if it’s a close family member. You might not have enough information to go on if it’s a stranger. But nevertheless, their profile is distinctly and markedly different from yours even if it’s your twin sibling that you’ve grown up with.
Now, as you imagine, add a third person. Consider any similarities in identity, values, beliefs, thoughts, and behaviours between you and them, between person 3 and person 2. Now see if you can identify any similarities between all 3 of you.
Chances are there’s a lot of “I don’t knows” in there. You can’t read minds. You can observe some visual cues that may or may not indicate attributes of identity. You can perhaps see some behaviours. But mostly you can’t evaluate jack.
That’s only 3 people.
Now try doing it with 7,200,000,000 people.
I reckon you can’t. Because there is simply too much data for a single human brain to parse. Not to mention the fact that almost all of it is inaccessible. Or that a critical mass of the first 10,000 identities you had analysed would have changed dramatically before you even began on the next 10,000.
But, like the pattern recognition machines we are, we try anyway. We do this by letting our imaginations take over and apply sweeping, oversimplified brush strokes like “Everyone likes cake!” or “Nobody likes her!”. And then we justify those romping absurdities with an “I’ll keep this opinion until I gain new data” attitude.
The problem with that approach is that those opinions sit, solidify, and often (not always) become entrenched beliefs that we then set out to defend!
I’ve been doing it my whole life.
Here’s an example of it that’s way too close to home: I almost wrote the line above as “We all have been doing this our whole lives.” As I just described I can’t possibly know that for certain.
It’s a grim reality to face the fact that no human can understand all humans.
We don’t understand our world. We don’t understand our own species. We don’t truly understand each other. We barely even understand ourselves!
We are each a polyp, clinging tightly to the minerals closest to us, trying to make sense of the entire reef based purely on what our puny cilia can feel.
It’s preposterous that we should even use the words like “everyone” or “nobody” at all. Yet, in our unfathomable ignorance, many of us do just that.
So what’s the way out? The way forward? The way to understanding?
In my experience, it’s simply... experience! The more we have, the more information we gain, the better we understand the bigger picture.
We need to face that no one of us will ever know or understand humanity on the scale of billions. Omniscience is beyond us for now.
But what we can do is dedicate some effort to understanding those who are not like us whenever your and their spheres of experience overlap. To listen to what others have to say.
To quote a valuable belief shared by Ramit Sethi in an interview he did for Medium.com
“You can learn from anyone.”
Good luck out there, fellow polyp. May your grip on the reef ever broaden.
Thanks for learning!
Belief 1: No human can understand billions of humans;
Emotions at time of writing:
1. Humbled by the realisation of the limitation,
2. Hopefulness that the limitation can be wilfully modified;
Belief 2: Humans should acknowledge they we can learn from any other human;
Recommended behaviour: Humans should take opportunities to acknowledge the differences between themselves and others encountered;
Metaphor: Humans as polyps.
Ramit Sethi interview: https://medium.com/@producthunt/ramit-sethi-will-piss-you-off-and-then-he-ll-change-your-life-ad01db8d0fa4#.uqihfkn7s
This article previously showcased a beautiful Getty Images photograph by the talented photographer Matias Costello, but it's no longer available for that purpose. Here's a link if you'd like to see what he's capable of: https://www.eyeem.com/u/imatias