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Become a Minority to Increase Awareness

All my life, I've been sort of a rebel.  Not in the conventional sense (is there such a thing as a conventional rebel?), as in riding motorcycles and wearing black leather or dropping-out-turning-on types of ways, but in mindset.  As long as I can remember, I've enjoyed trying to think differently than everyone around me.  It's generally led to my living as a minority as regards many topics and mindsets.

Just via my nature, I've been on the minority side of things a lot.

  • I read the Communist Manifesto for fun when I was in high school, just to see what it was all about.  
  • I used to wear kilts for fun on a pretty regular basis, and even organized a short-lived Columbus kilt-wearers group.  
  • I listened to rap music back before it was in the mainstream.  
  • I follow a very ancestrally-based diet - a variation of Paleo.

That's led to some very interesting insights on life.

One of those insights is that being a rebel against things that conventional wisdom holds dear is an awareness of how people talk about things, and how that can change the way we think.  For example: one of the ways I've held different views on life is via my bike commuting habit.  As many of you know, I wrote a fairly successful bike commuting blog for many years and tried very hard to bring awareness of bicycling issues in the city of Columbus to the masses.  What that did for me is to have a very different outlook on what traffic meant.

Here's an example of what I'm talking about, in a discussion of recent traffic changes in the city of San Francisco.

“Closing” Lombard Street: The Language of Taking Cars For Granted

Look at this discussion of language in the reporting of the change in traffic flow of Lombard Street in the City by the Bay.  The conventional media is reporting this entirely as a "closure" because it's affecting what is seen as the default form of transportation in San Francisco: the car.  However, it's opening up the opportunities for safe travel by bicyclists and pedestrians.

The tone and topic of this article shows exactly what I'm trying to talk about here: that of becoming a minority (in this case a non-motorist) and seeing the world differently as a result.  In this case, many people see this traffic situation as a negative, but a minority of people see it as an absolute positive.

Now the point here is not to discuss the right or wrong of what San Francisco is doing, the point is to show how shifting our attitudes about a topic can be used to create a different kind of awareness.  By adopting a different way of behaving or thinking, we can become more aware of how the world filters the information we receive and how it affects the thinking of those getting that information.  And that's a great mindset to take whenever you read anything.

You don't even need to delve into something new to adopt this mindset.  Pick out a belief or practice that you have now that isn't shared by a majority of the population around you and go about your day with that item on your mind.  Are you on a diet? Look at the presence of sugar and its general acceptance in the modern world.  Are you trying to work on feeling gratitude?  Look at how the media presents "needing more" as a meme.

A note of caution:  as you're adopting this "minority" mindset, it's important to keep your wits about you and not fall into the trap of victimhood.  It's easy to look at the ways in which the mainstream doesn't share your views and take on a mindset of what is owed you.  Take the attitude of using this mindset as an awareness-creator instead of a mindset of outrage at your new-found knowledge and of trying to force others to acknowledge it.

It's a really interesting thing to use your own perceptions and to see how you can meld them to your own benefit, just by looking at things from a different mindset.  

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