During the summer, my son, Matthew, who has just turned 14, went fishing with a few friends. We saw this as a nice diversion from being cooped up inside our house since March. His friend had fished many times with his father and knew of local fishing holes where they could go. We told him that we expected him to be safe and that they should only go where it was okay to fish as I knew that there are certain places where fishing is not allowed. He proudly sent us the picture above when he caught his first fish. It’s not a very impressive fish but that’s not the point. If you look at the picture closely, directly above Matthew’s head to the right on a tree is a sign that says No Trespassing, Private Property. There are a couple of lessons here. The first for Matthew was that if you are going to tell your parents that you are fishing where it is perfectly legal to fish, don’t take a picture with a No Trespassing sign in the background. There is another larger point that has nothing to do with Matthew but has to do with human nature.
I heard a comedian do a bit once where he started by noting how carefully people eat these days. They examine labels for fat, calories, gluten, etc. But, if we are at the mall and a guy dressed in lederhosen walks up to you with a platter of cut summer sausage and little toothpicks, we’re all over it. We don’t question him on the salt, fat or calories or how the pigs were treated. We just take the free meat, handed to us by a stranger in a mall, and enjoy. Now I realize this is a preposterous example because who goes to a mall anymore, but the point is that people are generally trusting and caring. I love this quality in people, and we see it shine all the time. But this wonderful trait also leaves us open to manipulation because while we have developed a gut instinct for some things, it seems as though it is missing when it comes to the digital world and social media. For those of you who have watched The Social Dilemma, you know what I’m talking about and for those of you who haven’t watched it, I strongly encourage you to do so. We tend to believe what we see online, and the search engines are designed to give us what we want. The goal of the search engine is not to inform us but to get us to click more. It is very easy for us to get stuck in our own little echo chamber and go down the rabbit hole of misinformation. It’s a delicate balance to remain diligent but to also remain trusting, caring, and open to new ideas. We don’t want to miss out on the joy of catching our first fish or being the parent joyfully seeing the picture of that monumental event.
This week’s selection is:
My Octopus Teacher
2020 Netflix Original documentary film directed by Pippa Ehrlich and James Reed. It stars Craig Foster, who also produced the film. The film captures a year Foster spent with a wild common octopus. Foster followed the octopus for most of the octopus's life. By visiting her den and tracking her movements every day for months, he won the animal’s trust. In the film, Foster describes the impact on his life of his relationship with the octopus.