Circles of association

I always remind myself that the world is usually not how I view it. I know that it is hard to get far enough away from the world to see it all. This is something I learned a long time ago. My example of this living in the San Francisco Bay Area is easy. Between my friends and what I see at coffee shops, I would think that Apple has 50% of the laptop market. I know that is not true.

That leads me to the Washing Post article, Why Everyone You Know Thinks the Same as You. I have here this referred to as circles of association in the past. The idea is that you can never know the size of a minority population from inside a population because you are either over exposed or under exposed.

I can understand how this is worse in on-line communities. They are very self selected. You can self select to a very specific level. This has been one of the very liberating to meet people like you. Before the internet people often felt that they were the only person that felt a certain way.

The problem is that it can cut you off from people who are different than you. In a real community you have to deal with people have different views, experiences, and agendas that you. The more you cut yourself off the harder it is to get along with people. People end up connecting only with their self selected community and not their real world community.

When it comes to political thought I am not surrounded people who think like me. I know lots of people who have different ideas than I do. I know that keeps me quite some of the time and other times I am holding my opinions close, only speaking up when I know I have good ground to defend myself. I know that some of my friends do the same thing.

I would say that my friends have a few baseline ideas that connect us. I think we all agree freedom of speech is important. We believe in pluralism. I think we want to stay away from people who want to force ideas on us. I know this means that I am not associating with the whole range of American society.

In the end I think all you can do it remind yourself that you cannot generalize for how everyone feels. You will never know enough people where you can know this.

I found this on Mike's LJ.


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