leave your inhibitions at the door
Despite there being a wealth of material in this campaign season I can
be snarky about give powerful insight on and my strong personal views, I haven’t felt a need to comment on it here.
Within 15 minutes of each other last week, I saw two similar Facebook posts from people in my network. They don’t know each other and couldn’t be any more different. One is an old friend from high school who’s a very successful banker, gay, and splits time between Chicago and London. The other is a divorced co-worker living in an Oklahoma suburb, is a computer programmer and is the daughter of a military family.
The high school friend is an art lover and his feed is filled with pictures of exhibits and concerts from around the world. He’s always checking in at famous restaurants like Heston Blumenthal’s 3-Michelin-Star The Fat Duck in England
The co-worker has a little bit more of a “normal” life – spending time with family, watching football games, going to local events. On a few different occasions, she’s enjoyed special dinners at the corporate-owned, decidedly non-haute cuisine…
Both of them posted the same type of political message – “How the hell can anyone in their right mind vote for THAT Presidential candidate?” – but coming from different sides of the fence. Predictably, their friends were similarly incredulous. (I’m sure you can guess which side each of them was on.)
It was striking to me that here were two sets of people who were completely unaware of the other side, but I guess I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s completely natural for people to seek out their tribes. The tribes bring shared interests and experiences, bring joy in good times, and support in bad ones. Once people find their tribe, it’s understandable to stay in it.
Maybe that’s the problem?
I’ve seen this all too often with food. That co-worker once mentioned she’s never had brie. I was at a party last week where someone told me she makes meatloaf for her family at least three times a week. Hell, just today I met someone who’s never been to Chipotle.
This has always blown my mind. There’s a world of different cuisines and millions of restaurants making their versions of those cuisines. What would happen if people make it a point to try a new food once a month? Just once. You don’t have to love it, just try it. If you do like it, then now you have something new to look forward to. If you hate it, you still have about 90 more meals in the month to make up for it.
Now think about how that might work beyond food. What would happen if you checked out at least once – and with an open mind – life outside the tribe? Try a new TV show. Listen to a new genre of music. Check out one of those clothing stores at the mall that you always walk by but never went in. Eat at a fucking Applebee’s.
There’s a good chance you’ll go running back to your tribe vowing never to do that again. That’s OK, you don’t have to love the outside thing. Or maybe you find you really like it. Or maybe, if you went in with an open mind, you could at least see the appeal.
If that happened then you’ve successfully experienced the thing that the world needs more of – empathy.
(That all said – I will never go into a fucking Applebee’s. )