What bubble have you built around you?
From a TEDx talk by Jon Yates
Jon Yates is still a young man but he has noticed as he has lived in Plymouth, Oxford, Nairobi and London that people have built bubbles around themselves which often mean they hang out with people like themselves and keep separate from others.
In a TEDx talk in London, he gives many illustrations from his own experience such as living in Newham in the east end of London. It's an incredibly ethnically diverse part of the country. There's four main groups that made up Newham. There's a white working class community that have been there for generations. There's a black Afro-Caribbean community that's been there for two or three generations. There's a Muslim South Asian community that's been there for about one or two generations. And, there's a yuppie community that he probably was part of that has been there for about half a generation. His job meant he worked in all these groups and a friend said to him, "It must be brilliant to be living in such a mixed community." And he thought, "It is mixed, but no one seems to ever really mix,"
Given his observations, as part of his work recruiting young people from very different backgrounds for The Challenge (National Citizen's Service), he asked people, "Tell me about your lives."
A British-Asian girl age 16, asked why she wanted to join the programme said, "I don't have a white friend. I'd like to meet one." At the end of the programme, a young black man from South London said, "Do you know what? I'm going to go to uni. I've met someone for the first time, who is now a friend of mine, who's going to go." Before that, he never met someone as a friend who was planning to go to university. A white girl from South London said, "Before I came on this programme, if I saw a group of black lads, I always crossed the road, because I didn't have any black lads who were friends, so I thought they must be in a gang."
Here's a test:
Think of your best friend, the person you would call in a crisis. How similar is their background to yours? University or not, grew up in a house or a flat, both parents born in this country or another country?
Here's some data. In America 75% of white people in American do not have a close friend who is not white. In the UK, 90% of non-Muslims do not have a friend who is a Muslim. And, it's not just about ethnicity and religion. It's about income. If you're a professional in this country, you are so unlikely to have a friend who is unemployed.
The trouble is, we quite fancy people like us. We have this little bias. It's quite a small bias, but we have this little bias towards people who remind us in some way of ourselves. There's even a word for it. It's called homophily, a slight preference towards people like you. 'Birds of a feather flock together'.
It affects what you buy - studies show you buy more from people like yourself. It affects who you date. It affects who your friends are.
How does this affect the Church? Are we operating in bubbles of our own making? Maybe we need to do something about it.
Watch Jon's 15 min talk here:
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