What is the color of your bubble?
There are many kinds of bubbles, some created by nature, as the bubbles in a geyser pool or the bubbles left after waves have receded on the shoreline, and the bubbles created by man, such as a soap bubble, an economic boom bubble, and the “living in your own fantasy” kind of bubble. Whatever the nature of the bubble, we like them all.
Bubble in nature is a thin sphere of liquid enclosing air or other gas. It is hollow and light, and beautiful to watch. It floats in the air but is not contaminated by it. You can only see a bubble from the outside and marvel at the lightness and purity of this ball, and you grasp that it is fragile. A little gust of air; a little dryness of the moisture around it will pop it. Bursting of the bubble is inevitable. Its brief flight brings the joy of childhood to the young and old. And we watch it float higher and higher to where it bursts. And then smile.
The economic bubble—Because of its beautiful, fragile nature, we call a bubble many situations of exuberant optimism that are bound to burst at the peak of their performance, such as the bubble in an economic boom, whether in the stock market, housing, or tulips. A bubble brings prosperity, but this prosperity comes at a price. We know that eventually the bubble will burst, and so we live in it with apprehension. When it does burst, we do not smile as when watching the thin sphere of liquid pop. However, the weight of apprehension of this pending downfall is lifted, and we wait with feet on the ground to catch the ride of the next bubble.
The next bubble the one created by your own phantasy. This bubble is not created by outside forces but rises from within your ego and does not burst spontaneously. Other people must act on it by injecting a little turbulence to your fragile ego. “Hate to bust your bubble, but, …” If your skin is tough, the turbulence will hardly affect you. However, if it persists, prepare yourself for a new reality.
In all definitions, a bubble is ephemeral and beautiful, and it comes with a great warning: DO NOT TOUCH. The moment you touch it, it bursts.
This brings me to another kind of bubble—the kind the gives me temporary flight from the abrasiveness of the world I live in. This is where I escape to keep my blood temperature from rising and my cold shoulder from freezing.
I live in a bubble and I like it.
I like surrounding myself with people who are like-minded. It is my way of coping with living in a community whose majority holds diametrically opposed views from religion to politics. I cannot quit my society, nor do I want to. I value mixing in the company of people who think differently. To discuss a preconceived notion with others of the opposing opinion keeps my mind agile; although somewhat aciculated, but the scratches are inflicted both ways. That’s when I retreat to my bias bubble, to seek the company of people who share my views and apply a balm of soothing words to my wounded ego.
We all have our bias bubble along all points of the ideological spectrum. It is attached to us like an anchor up to a sailing ship. We drop the hawser whenever we’re bruised by words and seek retreat in the harbor of our bias bubble—the chamber that echoes our views regarding our social, religious and political issues.
As much as I like the warmth of my bias bubble, I recognize that it’s not healthy to live in it. It’s necessary to step out of that comfort zone and allow myself to get scratched. I’m reminded of the movie “The Way” with Martin Sheen in the role of father to his estranged son. He lives in the bubble of a country club life that burst when he learns of his son’s death. It is then that he’s forced to step out of his comfort zone and to experience a profoundly affecting transformation.
I feel good in the company of those who, like me, are struggling to hobnob with the opposition. I also feel good when I engage in an open discussion of opposing ideas without proselytizing. Failing this, I find comfort in retreating to a safe place, where my values, ethics, and scruples are accepted without controversy.
This life is enriched by exposure and open mindedness to all beliefs and ideas. There is no right way or wrong way of believing. There is only a difference of opinion, and it behooves us to be receptive and even admit the other party may have a valid point. As the cliché goes, ”two minds are better than one.”
It is an optimist’s world to be able to circulate among all parties and speak openly without giving or receiving offense. In such a world, there would be no need to retreat to the comfort of a bias bubble. I’m not optimistic that such a world will evolve in my lifetime. Until it does, I will seek retreat to my bias bubble. So, please do not burst my bubble.