Don’t take things out of context. You have probably heard this before. Something along the lines of don’t compare yourself, don’t take things personally and don’t judge a book by its cover. But what does it mean in this day and age?
Society is becoming more and more individualistic. Contrarily, our world is one of plurals. Western culture today is really into feelings, identity and ‘going inward’. Consequently, we are living more inward focused. I belief this is a reaction to a world of overpopulation, overconsumption and over anything: a world of over exhausted plurals. Naturally we would crave simplicity. But then again, I don’t think simplicity means one.
On the other hand of this individualistic narrative is an explosion of communication. Being ‘social’ is easier than ever and gets encouraged everywhere. Connecting with people -often through social media- is seen as an asset to personality (social behavior) and to the market (networking). It has become somewhat of a communication explosion.
Do we communicate too much then? It is questionable if multitude is the problem. It is probably more about the quality of communication. Today’s communication -through social media- is not a contextualizing one, but a distancing kind. Very isolated fragments of time and place cannot ever create a full view and are therefore unable to engage or emerge with other holistic perspectives. I love social media and how easy it is to make connections; however, it is only a 2D image in a 3D world.
A holistic perspective means to take into account differences among people, cultures and identities. This perspective is not something static, you can’t acquire nor maintain it, because motionless in this context would actually mean going backwards. The key is to keep extending and amplifying your perspective, because your world and your reality keeps growing the more you grow, the more people you meet and the more environments you find yourself in.
Contextualization is more important than ever because (a) there are more people on this earth than ever (b) we are more connected than ever -through technology- consequently we experience more confrontation with other people, cultures, identities and ideas and (c) even in a smaller context, you always work with different people who come from different backgrounds and different environments.
We need a filter and that filter is contextualization, a holistic perspective. That means being aware that there are a lot of differences amongst people who have multiple realities and numerous truths.
Contextualization is very logical. It resonates with the world we live in, a world of multitudes. So why don’t we implement this idea more often? Why do we find it hard to act from a view of contextualization? Maybe because we are so encouraged to look inward that we forget our enclaved space in the world. You cannot judge from a place of isolation, only from a place of overview.
I am not saying to just forget about yourself altogether and only focus on other people, but to act from a holistic point of view. You are as much a part of that as the next person. There is a balance in keeping an open mind and creating space for other ideas and perspectives without shoving your own ideas aside. Try expanding, not replacing. That is fully grasping the idea of contextualization.
Photography by @happyhippyfoodie