The Importance of Diversity: Shining a Spotlight on the Human Experience

What is literature but not an expression of one’s self; what is one’s self if not a summation of their thoughts and experiences?

A creator's work is indistinguishable from themselves. Serving as an expression, each work creates a world unique to them just like a fingerprint.

The different thoughts, experiences, and viewpoints espoused are a gift allowing us to grow and flourish as we challenge and expand our ideas of the world. Whether represented through nonfiction or fiction, each literary work is an extension of an individual and their experiences.

Good fiction’s job is to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable.
— David Foster Wallace

Connect with others

Ever sit on the subway or train, look around at all of the people, and fill in their lives with your own stories?

Well, no need.

Just talk to them. Everyone around you is “living a life as vivid and complex as your own—populated with their own ambitions, friends, routines, worries and inherited craziness”, well at least that’s the concept of sonder.

It’s an obvious concept on the surface…everyone having their own life…they’re people right?

But, too easily we are blind to the humanity of those around us, and they fade into the background just like non-playable characters in video games.

It’s not out of maliciousness or lack of empathy, but it stems from self interest.

It is quite possible—overwhelmingly probable, one might guess—that we will always learn more about human life and personality from novels than from scientific psychology.
— Noam Chomsky
 

So, how Do we tap into the lives of people around us?

The news and social media do a decent job…podcasts and youtube are great too.

But, beyond the medium we choose, we should examine the creators from which it came. We live in a customizable world filled with macro and micro choices we make daily about what media will occupy our space.

Who we follow on Twitter, what subreddits we subscribe to, and what podcasts we listen to are all up to us. It’s easy for us to fall prey to a self satisfying feedback loop, or echo-chamber, in which we consume what we want to hear from people who already have views like us.

This insulation leaves our worldview on a treadmill.

To a sensitive being, pity is not seldom pain.
— Herman Melville

Empathy is predicated on understanding

It makes sense. How deeply can we feel for others if we can’t understand their lives? Diversity in reading empowers us to understand the struggles, nuances, and intricacies of those around us in ways that are not possible when we isolate ourselves.

It takes daily effort to prevent succumbing to complacency. Watching the same Netflix shows, listening to the same podcasts, and reading the same news writers can be comforting, but I urge you to take time each day to press back against your comfort zone and expand on what you are consuming.