This recent thread on Reddit highlights a few noteworthy TED talks. One of the most up-voted replies was the talk “The danger of a single story.” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
Adichie makes several great points during this talk, mainly related to her theme that viewing anything from just one perspective can lead to great misunderstandings. I agree with her thoughts and this line in particular stood out to me:
The single story creates stereotypes, and the problem with stereotypes is not that they are untrue, but that they are incomplete. They make one story become the only story.
One of my professors recently remarked that nearly all news outlets today have become “boosters for their own causes”. You could probably extend that to “all people have become boosters for their own causes”. Perhaps it’s impossible to avoid bias, but we are all capable of seeking additional angles. We are capable of understanding a complete story provided that we put forth the energy to seek it out.
Personally, I’ve found the threat of a great misunderstanding frequently extends into personal relationships. Gossip produces unhealthy grapevines. When you hear something through the informal passing of information, the picture is often incomplete. Thus, one of the best filters I’ve discovered for “friends of good” lately is to simply take notice of who has asked for your side of the story in a particular conflict. True friends are often those who will not stand for incomplete information; they recognize the danger of a single story.