Not the sexy or gross kind…but the assumption that in a group the free and unobstructed exchange of ideas is bad. That people need the amount of information and its passionate exchange controlled by authority.

First of all, while I accede that Too Much Information is a real thing. There are times when I take in too much data to process.

  • When I read one of the ancient philosophers…
  • When I go to one of those overwhelming all-day or worse yet two or three day conferences…
  • Sometimes just after a really intense conversation with my beloved Cookie Monster…

Then I feel like my head is going to explode…sometimes even physically.

But I am not a child. I do not need someone else to protect me from TMI. I isolate myself. I do something totally mindless like watch TV or read one of my trashy romances. And yes, I eat comfort foods.

After a while, my brain reboots itself. And not only am I able to take in more information, but I have digested what I learned then, organized it in ways that makes sense to me, and actually am ready to seek out more.

But the idea that anyone should impede the free-flow of ideas (as long as there are no personal attacks) is an anathema to me. As a #RadiCoolUnschooler I do not place a single filter on PanKwake’s devices.

She is her own filter…and secondarily I am. She will bring me anything that she questions or excites her. And we engage in passionate debates…multiple times each and every day. The biggest phrase in our #HomeCrazzyHome is…

What do you think about…???

From that will flow debate and discussion…sometimes only a moment or two and sometimes for quite a while with one thought leading to another. We will discuss the source…the methods…possible flaws with both methods and conclusions…the context in terms of society, history, religion, and other factors.

In fact, before I could even post this, one of the clearest examples happened. PanKwake wakes up slowly in bed by watching her YouTube each morning. More often than not, she will ask one or two of those what do you think? questions. But I was NOT prepared for this one… (WARNING: Highly upsetting content…TRIGGER!)

Yes, if you watched that, you might be thinking WTF? A twelve year-old autistic child should NOT be exposed to stuff like that. This woman is a BAD mother.

But when PanKwake called me into her room and asked…Have you ever heard of the auto-pilot theory? It was just routine for our #RadiCoolUnschooling #HomeCrazzyHome. Then my heart almost stopped when I got to the end of that video. Still PanKwake was rattling on…I on the other hand was TMI.

She kept asking me what I thought. I admitted that at the moment I was overwhelmed with emotions and could not think. Then she gave me her thoughts…

Because of my #autism (#PathologicalDemandAvoidance), I don’t have an #autopilot…or mine does not work.

And my mouth dropped open at the level of insight of my #LittleHuman. 

That is the result of NOT limiting the free flow of information…of encouraging passionate as well as logical debate.

A brilliant mind capable of reasoning for itself…making choices…as I said the other week…Good Decision Maker.

Of course, there is one thing to remember:

We do NOT always agree. We do NOT necessarily reach consensus.

In fact, reaching consensus was not the point. The point was the free exchange of ideas. The point was each of us LEARNING something new. Seeing a situation from a perspective other than our own. And broadening our understanding of the world in which we live…and the people around us.

So if I do not restrict the free flow of information to my twelve year old #HappilyAutistic #ProudlyPDA #LittleHuman, you can beat I am not happy to have it restricted to myself or other ‘adults’.

But isn’t it important to narrow the discussion…keep people on point…I mean if you want to get anything accomplished?

Yes and NO.

Yes, ultimately, the field of choices/options needs to be winnowed and culled to a few. from those few, a decision must usually be made (but not always). And the group must move on from there. With people either compromising their individual agendas for the good of the group and the long-term goal/purpose. Or decenting…perhaps even leaving to form their own group…seeking to address the issue in a way more in keeping with their ideals and values.

But the danger is…

Group Think!

Creating an environment where consensus too early limits the range of options from which to choose. People are so focused upon the problem/issue, their own agendas/ethos, and rushed to get to the end…or worse yet…it has always been done this way…this is what worked in the past. While those are good things to know, it is important at this stage to keep your options open.

ALL voices need to be heard! 

And all of them need to be respected and not censored by authority. 

It is sometimes called BRAINSTORMING. And yes, it can at times feel like TMI. As the word STORM implies, voices can be passion. Thoughts can even seemingly be disjointed and disorganized.

BUT it is highly-effective. Even those ideas that seem ‘ridiculous’, if examined closely often have something of value within that that can and should be incorporated into the final ‘solution’.

At this point, the role of authority is to provide a SAFE space for the free flow of ideas. But even that role needs to be limited, lest they impede the exchange.

What do I mean by limited?

As my post the other day said…we have forgotten (or perhaps never really accepted) that there is a difference between someone CHALLENGING our ideas and a personal attack. This is a Personal Attack…

Personal Attack

It seeks to quiet the voice and perspective of others. It demeans the individual…calling them five year-olds. It is wrong…and moderators need to stop things then.

But just because a debate is passionate…because people are uncomfortable with opposing points of view is NOT a personal attack. It is a sign of healthy engagement.

And perhaps if someone is uncomfortable…does not feel ‘safe’…it is not the fault of the person sharing their views passionately but as respectfully as possible. Perhaps it is because this person is not accustomed such an exchange. Isn’t it better to encourage that person to share their views in a respectful and even equally passionate voice than to stop the debate…limit the free flow of information…and preemptively close the debate?

There was a time when discourse, debate, and rhetoric…and the ensuing skills were valued and taught. It produced powerful orators such as Dr Martin Luther King, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, and Malcolm X. While these men and their ideas were NOT perfect, they inspired others to seek their own truths.

As an American…this is one of my favorite videos…

Catch that…

We aspired to intelligence. We didn’t belittle it. It didn’t make us feel inferior.

And why? WHY?

We were able to be all these things and do all these things because we were INFORMED.

What I hope to see again one day is leaders who will do that…rather than limiting the free flow of information and the sharing of ideas…to protect those who may feel ‘threatened’ or ‘inferior’…will instead INFORM and encourage and enable them too to raise their voice. To break free of the dangers of consensus and group think and to voice their ideas just as passionately as the voices that once made them feel ‘unsafe’.

That, my friends, is how we EMPOWER real change. By empowering ALL voices to have their say.

Iron sharpens iron, and one man sharpens another. Proverbs 27:17 (English Standard Translation of the bible)

I want my mind as sharp as possible. I welcome ideas that challenge me. Even the ones that make me ‘UNCOMFORTABLE’. Especially those. Good thing too, because at this #HomeCrazzyHome there is plenty of that.

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