Living in our own reality news, sports, jobs – the alpena news

The show “stopped working” because it was time for a commercial break. My children didn’t know what a commercial was. At our house we don’t have regular TV. We subscribe to Netflix and Amazon so it is basically watching TV shows that have been recorded. There are no commercials. It was a comical moment, and also a good reminder that they live in a different reality than I do. And don’t we all?

Never before have the populations of developed nations been more segmented. At a recent conference I attended, one of the keynotes talked about just how insulated we are from one another, as countries, as communities, and as individuals. We are all creating our own realities.


In the ’60s most homes had two parents, one worked and one stayed home with children. Dinners were family-style and after dinner the whole family would gather around the household’s only TV and watch programming that was family-oriented. News came from the newspaper, radio, and only a handful of TV news outlets. Everyone heard pretty much the same news and saw the same TV commercials.

In the 1980s, nuclear family boundaries were different. Both parents of a household most likely worked outside the home, children spent more time in daycare or at after-school programs. Information came from multiple sources including newspapers, cable and satellite TV which offered many options for news — so many options that you could pick a favorite.

Today the amount of information available to each individual with Internet access is overwhelming. We can watch TV or not. We can watch only our favorite sitcoms on Netflix, never see commercials and never watch any news. We can narrow our social media feeds to only those things we find enjoyable. Even satellite radio allows us to switch to our favorite genre of music so we no longer have to sit through anything we don’t like. Not only can you pick your favorite places to learn what is going on in the world, but you can also choose what not to be exposed to.

That is the key. We have incredibly sophisticated ways choose what we don’t want. Don’t like what you’re seeing on the news programs? Then don’t turn to those channels, don’t follow them on Facebook, and don’t talk to your friends about it. There. Done. If you never see it, does it really exist in your life anymore?

Coming up in line behind this is another choice. People are choosing what they want to believe, not putting the work into determining whether or not it is truthful. For example, there are people in the world right now who believe the Earth is flat. There are so many people who believe this that they held a convention in North Carolina last year.

Running alongside this, marketing research has never been more sophisticated. Marketing data can be gleaned and segmented in an infinite number of ways. Marketing firms can determine who amongst audiences are conservatives who support Trump, and who are conservatives who don’t support Trump. They know where each segment of this group gets their news, shops for clothing, what brands of products they buy, and so forth. As a result, you are shown advertising and news that fits your interests. As this technology gets more sophisticated, the less chance there is for us to stumble across something we don’t like.

While we’ve never had more opportunity to connect, our individual worlds are becoming very small. The general population seems jaded and disenfranchised. People are less accepting of others who have differing opinions. In many cases, conversations are not even possible because people have already made up their minds to not listen. Each person coming to a conversation is coming with a different set of filters. If this is recognized and understood, there is a good chance the conversation will have a positive result.

The moral of the story, pause. Understand that each of us lives in a world personally tailored to individual interests, shaped by individual experiences. It’s cliche but I like it. “Practice the pause.” Before responding, before believing, before discarding; practice the pause to see if there is information you may be missing.