Lost in Narration

I am deeply concerned about the polarization of narrations and the spread of conspiracy theory, or better to call them “conspiracy fantasies“.
The pandemic and the election of Biden are now, of course, the focus of the public attention and at the centre of the polarization.
It is fundamental to have access to a plurality of narrations. As Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie said in her excellent TED talk: there is a danger in the single-story, many stories matter.
The plurality of narration is a richness; the polarization of narrations is a risk. I can feel this risk today more than ever. The phenomenon of the “trutherism” is disconnecting us from each other. On the other side,a plurality of narrations can open to a sharing of information and perspectives. This metaphor illustrates the difference between polarization of narration and the plurality of narration: I am my opinion (not open to listen, not available to disconfirm my data), or I have an opinion (open to listen, to disconfirm, to change opinion, to integrate more info). The Art of Listening is the key to avoid disconnection among us. “In order to understand what another person is saying, you must assume that he/she is right and ask him/her to help you to understand why it is so” (Marianella Scalvi).
Inspired by the post-colonialism and gender approach, I want to shed light on these questions about narration: who is telling the story? Who is not? What did the teller choose to tell? And in 2020 it is crucial the question: who is the initiator of this telling? Who is multiplying it? Through which platform? What is the relation between this platform and the communication power?
The pandemic amplified our relation with social media, and the dependency on virtual connection, as a consequence of the lack of physical relationship. We are continually browsing into news and “counter-news”, friends comments/posts and “enemies” comments/posts. What is mainstream, and what does it mean “counter-news” or alternative narration? Alternative to what? And what is their purpose?
Are we aware of the trap of social media and their algorithms? Are we aware that the algorithms make us reading over and over again, something that confirms our beliefs and opinions? Are we aware that We are part of the system that we are trying to analyze, criticize, understand?
Are we aware of the mechanism of our brain in processing information and its shortcuts (bias, cognitive dissonance, availability heuristics, apophenia…)?
In a world of infodemic and increasing polarization, we can be dried up by the effort to stay aware.
How can we discern fake news and “true” news?
What I see and sense, it is telling me not about what I see and sense, but above all, how I see and feel. As a wise quote says: “We see the things around us not as they are, but as we are”.
Maybe, this wisdom can save us from losing ourselves in not healthy narrations. How can we keep this wisdom and share a common field of dialogue, without fall into an absolute and lazy relativism?
Maybe, we can always ask ourselves: Does this reading help me to connect more to myself, to the others and nature? Or does this reading lead me towards a disconnection from me, the others and nature?

Ilaria Olimpico


About the overlap between the spiritual movement – new age – and the fast-spreading conspiracy theory – QAnon – check here

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