Three Ways Technology Can Help You Practice Tolerance and Compassion
By Brian Wesolowski
Making those around you feel at ease - which is the essence of grace - requires a mindful commitment to showing compassion for others. This includes practicing tolerance for new or different views. It takes a willingness to listen with a goal of understanding, even if you don’t necessarily agree. In today’s hyper-partisan world, that can be really, really hard, and without question, there are plenty of online sites and channels that make this pretty impossible.
Yet technology, at its best, can help us connect - connect to other people and connect to new information and knowledge. Here are three ways that technology can help you practice more tolerance and compassion, to bring more grace to your life.
Learn a new language - Some research shows that learning a new language can directly lead to greater tolerance of others. It makes sense - learning another language will certainly encourage you to explore other cultures and it likely will help bring greater understanding of those who speak the language you’re learning. The internet has made it easier than ever to learn a new language, from an app like Duolingo to the more traditional Rosetta Stone, which offers online classes. Check out some other recommendations from Lifehacker.
Become a virtual diplomat - Why not take it to the next level and directly interact with someone from a different country online? With online video conferencing, you can instantly connect to a classroom on the other side of the country or the other side of the world. Whether you are sharing a professional experience or just talking about local customs, putting a face and a voice with a different culture has the potential to create new understanding and appreciation. Youth for Understanding, a nonprofit that leads a variety of intercultural exchange programs, offers the ability to be part of a virtual exchange.
Ground yourself in facts - There’s a lot of biased information out there, which can create polarized views and discourage tolerance of others. To expand your knowledge base, turn to more fact-based sources. A good place to start is Wikipedia, the world’s most comprehensive online encyclopedia. Wikipedia articles are surprisingly factual and accurate, although it does have its limits. When it comes to news sites, try using the Freedom Forum’s Newstrition app to help avoid overly biased outlets. The simple web browser plug-in gives you information about the political leaning of an outlet, information on sources used, and differentiates opinions from news.
Bonus tip: Online meditation can help us practice mindfulness and compassion. There are a number online meditation apps and courses to consider, as well as an online tool from the University of Wisconsin’s Center for Healthy Minds. The Center suggests 30 minutes of mindful compassion practice two times a week.
These are just a few of the ways technology can be a tool for compassion and tolerance. Let us know if any of these tips work for you and be sure to share your ideas with us.