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Sunday, February 03, 2013

Get Out There In Person

From where does your reality come?

I mean, really, where do you get the information necessary to form your opinion of the world around you?

If you are like an alarming number of people you get it digitally from your laptop or TV in the form of media, main stream or social.  The problem is that so much of that is tainted: not part of a sinister plot like is often claimed, but filtered and edited for to serve a purpose. Where ever you get your information in too many cases you are not getting it from the real, physical world around you and that is a problem.

If you have read this blog before you know I get snarky and impatient with my fellow southerners about how they react to winter weather.  I have a recent weather example that illustrates my point about your reality.

A couple of weekends ago my wife was on her way from Nashville to Indianapolis during what was supposed to have been our most recent "Snowmageddon".  The local weather from Indianapolis to Nashville talked about how bad things were south of Louisville and best to stay off the roads.  I called my wife as she was driving and it was 44 and sunny between Bowling Green and Elizabethtown and the road was dry.  After my call two separate friends from Bowling Green called her to make sure she was okay: they are both single and live alone and were afraid to get out of the house "because things are so bad".  A few miles later a friend FROM LONG ISLAND called her to make sure that, surely, she wasn't on the road because New York weather talked about the black ice south of Louisville closing I-65.

Through all the calls, still sunny, 44 degrees with a dry road.  It was that way all the way to Indy except the temps were much colder.

That night we are watching the local Indianapolis weather and get another set of dire warnings.  It was 17 degrees and rain would move in tomorrow with the temps above freezing, but the kid behind the weather desk said, "When the rain hits this really cold ground and pavement we'll have instant black ice."  Of course the next day it was 36 and raining and absolutely no ice.  That was still worth two more calls from Kentucky to see if we were iced-in in Indiana and if she was going to make it back to Nashville.

Several of our friends and family did not get out of the house that weekend "because it was dangerous" and meanwhile we picked up furniture for the apartment, saw a movie, and explored the city.

News media sells advertising and the best way to get you to watch is to scare you.  Social media communicators so often have something to sell and need to grab your attention. Also, sometimes social media re tweets are just a big world-wide electronic form of the old "gossip" game you played in school, where bad information gets repeated and deteriorates in quality with each retelling.

Now forget the weather.  What about your life?  What about your perceptions of people who are different from you? What about places that you haven't been?  Books you haven't read or belief systems you haven't explored?  The best weather update and the best place to experience the world both start the same way; by turning off the laptop and the TV, putting your iPhone on silent, and walking out your own front door.

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