So there’s this guy, Max, who works for Google in San Francisco. He wakes up one morning with a hankering to bust out of his all too known world and try on some new glasses. So what does he do? Creates an app, of course! The app clues Max in to Christmas parties and pot-lucks and meet-ups with people and in places that are totally foreign to Max and his Google world. Things that take him smack dab out of the bubble of his world and spirit him into someone else’s bubble world. Hence the expression, bubble hopping.
Kudos for Max. It takes a kind of chutzpah to intentionally unbalance yourself, to forsake the familiar and the comfortable. But how else will we learn empathy? How else will we learn to love our crazy neighbor unless we can stand in her shoes?
I don’t have an app but I’ve discovered a few ways to break out of the fortress of my familiar. Sometimes I take the bus—across town or downtown, through neighborhoods that I’ve never set foot in, passing tiendas and bodegas and Thai and Korean and Filipino restaurants. I hope for a seat that faces into the aisle so I can watch and look and listen. I am surrounded by brown and black and beige and pink skinned people, a basketful of languages and so many untold stories. I become acutely aware of how the doors of privilege in my world glide right open for me. Aware of how many choices I have. My privilege shapes the way I see the world—I assume that things can be set right, that my voice matters, that hope is not a rare bird.
I want to go beyond the bus and hop into other bubbles. Religious bubbles. Christian, Muslim, Catholic, Buddhist, Orthodox Jews. Inside bubbles where people have gobs of money and bubbles where people don’t have much at all. I want to listen to people’s stories. Understand what scares them, what makes them beam with joy. I want to step into gun-owner bubbles and climate denier bubbles. Not as a reporter, not as someone keeping a distance, but as someone who wants to know the heart of another human being. And share my heart.
Thanks Max. For inspiring me to burst my bubble. Keep me posted. I’ll keep you posted.