R.I.P. Zygmunt Bauman

My academic friend and teacher, Craig Howley, introduced me to the writings of Zygmunt Bauman a decade ago. This Polish philosopher and sociologist died on the 9th of January at  the age of 91. You can read more about him on Wikipedia, where I got the picture below. LINK

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He authored many wonderful books full of great wisdom for our times and it would take several lifetimes to appreciate them all.

In an interview (that you can read HERE), he was asked about what he called “armchair activism” or using social media to protest and ?organize?.

His response is all brilliant and worth quoting here, but the part I’m thinking of more and more living in a small university town, is his caveat, “real dialogue isn’t about talking to people who believe the same things as you.” He goes on to say:

“…most people use social media not to unite, not to open their horizons wider, but on the contrary, to cut themselves a comfort zone where the only sounds they hear are the echoes of their own voice, where the only things they see are the reflections of their own face.”

But don’t our bookshelves, our pre-programmed stations, our DVRs, our clubs and fraternities, do the same? And yet, it seems that the tools of coming together to disagree and to make that disagreement generative are slipping away. Disagreement is personal rather than civil. I’m thinking a lot about this lately given the election, true, but also the declining participation in student organizations, the controversy over school building committees, the directions that journalism has gone.

I’m interested in other faces. I don’t want a thumbs-up or a favorite. I want a question mark and another and another.

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