June: Wrong Turns, Echo Chambers, and Appearances

We can’t blame June for the volatile weather conditions. Or, can we? Anyway, it wasn’t only the weather that was turbulent the past month.

When the UK voted for the Brexit, my social networks exploded. Through my colleagues, I mainly know young people in the UK – all between their early twenties and mid-thirties. They all were devastated and frustrated, deeply concerned when the referendum’s result was delivered. The newspapers I read also went head over heels about the vast negative consequences. To me, it seemed so obvious that the UK had voted for the wrong decision, and I couldn’t wrap my head around how this had happened.

During the first days and weeks, I haven’t stumbled upon one single positive aspect about the decision to leave. I read through the comments on the Leave Campaign’s Facebook page, just to get out of my echo chamber (a word I found in this German interview with Miriam Meckel, and I much prefer it to “filter bubble”). It is crazy how we are trapped in this shield of algorithms and precast opinions. It really takes some time and effort to dig through this chamber and grasp some different, unheard voices.

Well, anyway, I did that, but honestly, I did not come across a lot of smart things. A campaign driven by lies, politicians driven by wrong-tracked overzealousness, media driven by populism. Voters driven by the wrong assumptions and untold truths. Eventually, the whole thing reminded me of Platon’s “Allegory of the Cave” – there is so much wisdom and perspective out there, and once you found it, it’s the most shattering process to pass it on. The School of Life YouTube channel has some nice, brief memory brush-ups on philosophy, history and the like. I enjoy watching it while brushing my teeth in the morning, or while having dinner by myself at night.

Unrelated but relevant: This thought came to me while riding the bike down Sonnenallee (not a recommended cycling route), just like epiphanies mainly happen during showers, walks or moments where no pen and paper are available. Anyway, I realized: We, too, are just small — and sometimes not so small — parts of other people’s lives. We jump in, we stay for a while, and in most cases, we leave again. We just make an appearance. And after this, things are free to move on without us.

July marks an important, finalizing month in my current phase of life. The last couple of years were filled with work, so much work, and I truly loved it. But August will be spent traveling (a little bit at least, because I am a horrible traveler), seeing friends and family, buying a proper office chair. We’ll see. But for now: July, some more sun please, and let’s go.