The Difference That Kills

The human identity is such a chaotic dichotomy. We are characterized by our diversity and depth, on all levels of human existence, and yet we seem to be very resistant to it all at the same time. Parents teach their children to accept others, to share their toys and be polite, or that’s what we learn parents are supposed to do anyways. However, it seems the world is getting back to a selfish way of living, where we only seek validation for what we already believe in...

The Difference That Kills
Conquering is a basic instinct we bring with us into the world as a species - Isabel de Silva

We vary drastically in our beliefs, ranging from monotheistic and politheistic religions to atheism, scientifical knowledge and conspiracy theories. We can be so logical as to believe in what is scientifically proven but also feel there is something else out there to guide us and inspire us. We trust our senses to tell us what the world is like, but are capable of religious frenzies that alter our perception of reality in a way that can appear miraculous.

We also vary in our physical appearance, our ethnicity reflecting our genetic origins in a poetic homage to our ancestors. And yet, some of us deny their ancestry or reject other’s ethnicity as not belonging to the same group, refusing to accept the difference. It has been scientifically proven (if you believe those things) that children of mixed ethnical origins have stronger immuntary systems, are healthier, smarter and even more attractive (also, a subjective trait).

Conquering is a basic instinct we bring with us into the world as a species. We feel the need to dominate the other, to be stronger, faster and have access to more resources. Throughout history, several cultures have conquered others, opressed others, even dezimated others. At the same time, some cultures welcome others as theirs friends, for commerce and communal growth, adopting each others’ habits and respecting each others’ beliefs.

It’s the basis of neighbourly behaviour, if you think about it. How would you feel if your new neighbour came to your door greeting you with a beautiful cake or a basket full of goods or a plain invitation for a barbecue? On the other hand, how would you feel if your new neighbour came to your door and crashed it, stuck a flag on your dining room floor and proclaimed that your home was now his property? The difference is respect, believing you are equal. When one culture or individual believes they are superior to the other. That is when the problem begins.

Parents teach their children to accept others, to share their toys and be polite, or that’s what we learn parents are supposed to do anyways. However, it seems the world is getting back to a selfish way of living, where we only seek validation for what we already believe in, validation for what we are versus what others are, and most of all, validation that we are better and we are the ones that matter.

The internet brought wonderful things to our fingertips. I grew up on the brink of discovery, when internet was a loud phone line connection that took over 30 seconds to load a picture, and it would be revealed one or two centimeters at a time, building up the suspense. It took a lot of patience to “surf” the web back then, and if you wanted to meet people online with the same interests as yourself, you had mIRC, a wonderful chat system funtioning entirely through code, that you could personalise with font color and background color alone. You met people by joining groups named after something that interested you, you only saw funny or unusual usernames, no avatar pictures (or any pictures at all, unless you scanned them and sent them by email); no difference but all difference within.

Now everything is much easier online, literally anyone can use twitter or facebook or other social media to vent and not even think of the person on the other side. It works so fast that people forget their social filters, destroying others with their comments and even themselves. And the worst part of it is, back then, you could search for what you wanted and you got padronised results. Meaning, anyone who searched for a topic (let’s say religion) would get the same results if they entered the same keywords. But the new world is a tiny bit different.

The new internet KNOWS what you like. Cookies are these amazing little creatures that you agree to follow you around a website, letting the system know what you like to read or see. Meaning: when you search for something online nowadays, you get results catered to you and your needs, but mostly, to your beliefs. This sounds very pratical, it will filter out results that it knows you usually wouldn’t pay attention to. However, it has this other downside: it only shows you what you already know. This makes it harder for you to be confronted with diversity, to learn and to be open to different points of view.

We are all guilty of this. We love this! Everytime we search for something, we get confirmation of what we already thought, and we feel great. We feel smart. We feel important. We forget there are other results equally relevant. And then, because our brains are lazy by nature, they go “oh, nice, I don’t need to waste vital energy learning something new”.

The world is more open than ever. Travelling, learning new languages and meeting people from different cultures has never been so easy as it is today. And yet, while a lot of us enjoy this new access to all dimentions of being human, a lot of us also use these tools to reinforce what we already are and to close our worlds even more.

What do you usually do?