Today we have a problem, a significant lack of context. This problem shows up everywhere and it’s effects are quite worrying.
Take the instant written communication that most of us use today (SMS, Whatsapp etc) . I find it steals context in two ways . Since this means of communication is almost instant it puts users in a position to expect instant feedback/replies ( and gratification ). This leads to abrupt communication and sometimes the discussion of multiple topics in one confusing tangled thread. Leaving very little space for context. Since the replies are short and instant, you never have a full discussion of thoughts and ideas (No time for context). Second because of the abstracted nature of the communication medium, part of the context like emotion is lost ( smileys/emojis notwithstanding) . There is no facial expression , or voice inflection that we generally use to determine emotional context. All this leads to a huge number of misunderstandings
Then there are the social networks, they are supposed to let us see our friends lives. But they steal context again when we use them, we see only the parts our friends want to show us and the parts the networks deem worthy. So it’s never a full scene, we see only brilliant flashes of their lives . No context of the years that went into someone’s great work, no context into the nitty gritties of each other lives that actually matter. This happens even in networks for work ( LinkedIn, dribble etc) we see only final outputs and successes we don’t see the mistakes, the false starts the failed efforts . We don’t see the guidance received , the aid given. While all these help make the final product we see only the impressive final product. Hence you can never honestly evaluate or compare people’s work as it is never fair.
Lack of context is badly destroying the news industry. With a move to tweet sized headlines and attention capturing soundbites context is being left out. Then they made it worse by sculpting their articles to appeal to their d readers ( thereby destroying parts of the context ) Now since no one ever gets the full story they are forced to believe the parts they are shown. Fake news happened when people realised that you can say anything you want as no one asks for the context anymore. Now news people have no way of getting people to trust them again. And the public are left not knowing who to believe and what to believe.
Then there is labelling and stereotyping. The most dangerous and yet most common. The very act of labelling steals context and dilutes value. I’m not just talking about when managers or people call their employees their workforce or human resource. That allows them to reduce peoples lives to just another number on a spreadsheet. I’m talking about the more personal interactions where our lazy minds label people, just so that we don’t have to deal with their glorious multi-dimensional selves. This leads to a whole lot of stupidity like racism, religious intolerance etc. Then there are the career related labels that both managers and employees use to define themselves and the people around them, not realising that every time they label someone and say this is his/her work they are not only limiting that persons ability to do something else, they are ensuring that no other skills that person might possess come to the fore. Sometimes when people label themselves the damage is self inflicted.