The Other Side of the World

Posted on Jun 27, 2015 in Nerdery | No Comments

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The New Oxford American Dictionary defines the word worldview as follows:

A particular philosophy of life or conception of the world.

The other morning I opened the Maps application on my laptop to search for an address. The initial view that loads in the application defaults to a zoomed-in, city-level perspective of your current location. For some reason—perhaps I accidentally entered a zoom-adjusting key combination—the view was different that morning. Maps loaded a planetary view of the entire earth. Even though the image was manufactured digitally, I found the perspective breathtaking. I imagined what days were like for people far to the west and far to the east. Some of them were sleeping soundly, others were approaching the end of the day. For several moments, I felt very small.

Later that day I had phone calls with coworkers in London, which is a Western culture, but different from the one I live in nonetheless.

I found myself asking how often I actually think about people in different parts of the world. It’s easy to browse news headlines and file brief mental snapshots of events away in my imagination, but intentionally thinking critically about what people’s lives are like on the other side of the world isn’t something that I find myself doing naturally.

Thought we don’t like to admit it, we as humans are naturally myopic in our conception of things. Everyone believes something about the world and the people in it, but more often than not our philosophy is most heavily influenced by what’s immediately in front of us.

Being surprised by an image of the earth helped me step back and remember that having a worldview is a default setting, but developing your worldview takes intention and work.

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