Schlagwort-Archive: Culture

Culture – the essential information bubble

A look at cultures always takes place from the individual perspective of the own origin. The description uses words, associations and beliefs that are unconsciously determined by the culture in which you have grown up. This begins with the filtered attention that only notices aspects for which the viewer is accustomed to – are individuals or groups at the center of interest? This continues with the world view, which provides explanatory patterns for the observed facts, e.g. religious or secular convictions. The words that are used by the observing culture are available for the description, e.g. the interpretation of terms such as freedom, work, and government. If it is followed by an action, then this act is based on the possibilities of one’s society, e.g. imprisonment vs. corporal punishment. Already Ludwig Wittgenstein mentioned “Whereof one cannot speak, thereof one must be silent.” This turns our personal culture into the essential information bubble.

The following examples are cultural dimensions that hold this information bubble together.

  • Socialization
    One focal point of growing into the world is the social focus on oneself versus on one’s own group. The emphasis on independence and one’s own needs is an individualistic orientation. If, on the other hand, the group is the center of attention, then the affiliation and subordination of one’s own interests to the group determines one’s own identity.
    When different points of view come together, the participants focus on their learned standards. For example, while the collectivists ignore the desire for personal freedom, the individualists are missing the need for affiliation. This blind spot is preserved by the constant exchange of already familiar ideas. Socialization stabilizes the information bubble that is isolated from otherness and results in the known exclusions – e.g. Xenophobia, nationalism, and racism.
  • Hierarchy
    The relationship between people is essentially determined by the understanding of the position, the influence and the responsibilities. Hierarchical societies quickly accept the claim to power and the decisions of superiors. At the same time, this view relieves the burden of responsibility, because the higher-ranking persons naturally take over their responsibility. Egalitarian societies, which practice a flat hierarchy with group members of equal rank, are skeptical about power claims. Since they meet at eye level, they do not understand when they are presented a fait accompli without asking and then are still expected to be committed. The understanding and acceptance of a stratification of society and the associated roles can quickly lead to tensions between different cultures – e.g. lack of or too much respect, required decisiveness.
  • Time
    Differences in culture are often attached to the dealing with time. This begins with the division of time into fixed sections or flowing transitions. With the introduction of ever more accurate clocks, the day could be split into finer and finer segments. Nevertheless, cultures differ in the handling of appointments – e.g. Punctuality, duration, timeliness. This includes the use of time for one or more tasks at a time – e.g. multitasking, single tasking. Strongly internalized is the division into past, present, and future. Past-oriented people value experience and established approaches. In the here and now it is all about short-term, quick outcomes. Future-oriented people are not interested in the current situation and Quick-wins, but in long-term, sustainable results. You can easily determine the view on time with the following questions for oneself and others: Where do you see the future? Where do you point, if you indicate the past? In most parts of the world it has become accustomed that we find the future ahead of us and that we point backwards into the past. There are, in fact, nations, where it is the other way around. The past is visibly in front of them and the future lies invisibly behind their back. The cultural sense of time results in filtered reports that hide other perceptions of time.

Bottom line: The few examples should make it clear that we all float in an information bubble that distorts or at least burdens our look at other areas. Our socialization has made us personalities shaped by the surrounding. The responsibility is determined by our understanding of hierarchy. Dealing with time determines the perspective of the information bubble. So today, when we talk about the information bubble and alternative facts, it is not necessarily a matter of populists, but a necessary understanding of the cultural differences. Long before the political opinions of lobbyists we are already caught up in our cultural information bubble. We only overcome the limit, when we try to break free of it and behave openly and tolerantly towards the unknown and the strange. Culture is the essential information bubble that limits us.

Right or wrong – a question of the point of view?

Still thirty years ago, you one reached the public by means of special channels – daily papers, magazines, radio, and television. Nowadays, everybody can place its expression in the Internet and latently reach three billion people. Without the filters of the professional news makers the question arises, which information is right or wrong. Nevertheless, there was always fake news. This goes from a German cell of the Ku-Klux-clan, to the stone louse invented by Loriot (a German humorist), to the Hitler diaries that were published by the Stern (a German magazine). News developed in such a way are nothing else than lies. However, where does the truth begin and where does the lie ends? Right and wrong is maybe a question of the point of view.

A look at some aspects clarifies the difficulty.

  • Points of view make a difference
    Depending on where you are and into which direction you are looking, you see facts differently. The point of view is limited in any case. The involvement determines what you see and evaluate. If you belong to the group of victims, the unjustified act is your focus. Perpetrators are looking on the conclusive reason of their action. As an outsider you have a neutral standpoint due to missing background information. But which point of view is eventually right or wrong?
  • Contacts make a difference
    A second-hand report provides mostly different, contradictory perceptions. The statements are determined likewise by the role (see above). Additionally the perceptions are limited by the filters of the Meta model of the language. Contents are simply erased or generalized or distorted. How can you tell, what is right or wrong?
  • Culture makes a difference
    Depending on the affiliation to a culture differs for example the kind of information exchange, the dealing of people or the description of the time factors. The style leads to detailed or vague reports, depending on the presuppositions based on the prior knowledge of the target group. Cultural emphasis by looking at individual persons or at groups makes a difference. The handling of time leads also to a justifying look at the past or a simple description of the present or a consideration of future consequences. What is then correct or wrong?

The quest for truth was asked by all philosophers since the ancient Greeks. With the Internet there is a medium that can be used by everybody to reach everybody. Thus, it opens the flood gates for spreading all conceivable statements. What corresponds to the truth or at least gets close to it, is not finally decidable due to the different points of view. The attempt to create neutral authorities for the certification of contents, will not fix this issue.

Bottom line: In the absence of a guaranteed truth, we must learn to deal with different versions of facts. As soon as we understand that different perspectives produce different, possible realities, we are warned and it will be easier to deal attentively with the presented proclamations. In the end depends right or wrong on the standpoint – except in case of a deliberately intended lie.