By Zoey Lim, Terrific Mentors International
Like birds, we find strength in numbers. The strength in numbers could be used to fend off predators, or to cope with fatigue by flying in a “V” formation. In the same way, we achieve goals in teams. It could be completing a project, attaining a financial goal or advocating a social value. We advocate as a community on social issues like “Save Mother Earth”, “Black Lives Matter” or the LGBT movement. Strong advocacy comes from numbers and commitment.
One key difference between these two unique species of creation, however, is that we believe humans are more thinking and feeling. One of the benefits that humans have in flocking together is that we validate our ideas, thoughts and contributions. We feel good enjoying the company of like-minded people. It is no surprise that humans tend to congregate within social circles that make us comfortable, especially those where we don’t face too many challenges and obstacles in the exchange of ideas.
We choose our social circles consciously, with good reason, in order to “mix with the right company”. Subconsciously, we tend to hang out with others in the same social class, with the same background. Naturally so, because it is comfortable and less threatening.
At other times, we are compelled to communicate only with those who share common interests and beliefs. And the power behind this forceful giant is the media. It started with tracking cookies for advertising purposes. Then came a time, a few years ago, when you could be seen to have found some advertisements to be especially relevant. Remember that night when you were Googling the best accounting software for your startup, and 5 minutes later an accounting software advertisement on Facebook was served up, right under your nose?
The newspapers, educational resources and social media platforms have since caught on. After learning about your browsing preferences, their algorithms serve up articles, videos and news items that are relevant and preferred. Increasingly, the internet serves us news that fits our personal beliefs, constricting our perspectives. Quite an irony since we’ve always understood the internet to be a connection between the world and its people.
As we flock with birds of the same feather, we should take care to avoid becoming people whose perspectives are biased, constrained and limited by a lack of interaction with other species. The first step is to be aware – perhaps the world is not quite how we imagine it to be. The second is to be intentional – we should plan to change course. Occasionally to leave our flock in search of exotic experiences. Perhaps even consider joining a new flock; challenge ourselves to expand our horizons and understand the worldview of another species?
This might just be the key to diversity and inclusion.
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