Of all the challenges facing modern society, I wonder if one of the biggest might be honesty. Often, it seems we’re inclined to conceal, to hide our motivations, or justify them somehow over and above the interests of others. Personally, socially, politically, economically, on every level it seems telling the truth isn’t easy or commonplace.
So, it’s interesting how, surrounding that, technology now seems to be demanding it of us. Well, perhaps not technology itself, but the uses we’re putting it to and functions it’s serving. The internet, providing both a permanent record and a multifaceted reflection of global interactions, seems to be holding people to new standards of accountability in a world where little tends to stay hidden (see Notes One).
Faced with that interconnected web of information, it’s hard to imagine how anything short of complete awareness and relentless transparency can quite stand up. Which is both daunting and exhilarating. It’s hard to speak when your ideas will likely be met with every possible alternative interpretation or perspective. It’s hard to navigate that space when you don’t know what’s going to be thrown at you or how best to respond; and when those responses might linger forever to haunt you.
Ideally, I suppose, it’s through talking that we bridge the gaps between us? Now we’re in this situation where we can come to hear and understand all these different perspectives, we can begin piecing together that bigger picture to understand how our shared past and present impacts different people and places. This sense of communicating, of sharing what we have in common.
But that’s never easy. Even between a handful of people you’ll likely find almost insurmountable differences. The global impacts of history aren’t going to be easily resolved; countries, and the disparate groupings within them, having taken very different paths, reaching different conclusions and feeling vastly different ways about our one, shared reality.
Within all that, where does honesty lie? Is there going to be a simple path, a dominant narrative that succeeds in squeezing out the others? Or is this going to be a more complicated dialogue where we acknowledge mistakes or consequences, put ourselves in the shoes of those who’ve been affected by conflicting priorities, and somehow reach a degree of compromise that might be considered respectfully ‘honest’?
With this new awareness encompassing us all, we perhaps can’t avoid difficult conversations; but how best to approach them is surely still working itself out (Notes Two). Imagining those realities we’re exposed to through the slightly inhuman medium of technology; stretching our sense of self enough to accommodate the divergent experiences of others; evaluating complicated situations wisely are all huge challenges.
Even more so, then, is how we bring young people into that environment (Notes Three). If we’re sweeping away the complex realities that are becoming increasingly apparent, don’t we risk youth losing trust in our logic and sense of responsibility? Broaching such conversations seems so important in a world where we perhaps can’t avoid the truth.
Notes and References:
Note 1: Does anything exist in isolation?
Note 1: History’s role in modern culture
Note 1: What if it all means something?
Note 2: Value in visible impacts
Note 2: Apparent difficulty in finding a voice
Note 2: Listening, tolerance & communication
Note 2: What’s neutral?
Note 3: Ideas around education & responsibility
Note 3: Mirrors we offer one another