Last week I attempted to walk through my journey, from undergrad to ITP. It's a little bit messy and all over the place, but being respectful to other beings is the infrastructural part of my possible future thesis topics that I want to brought out.
In this post, my goal is to bring out three books/experience that influenced me deeply, and finally aggregate these thoughts into one possible concept to develop in the future.
Though the following thoughts I had are all naive, it's the ones that pushed me to think.
Working as editor at TEDxTaipei (I'm not trying to promote TED at all. At all.), the mission was to spread the talks to as many audience as possible. The timing was the dawn of Facebook page war, I had to make various attempts to boost clicks and views.
Someday, I noticed that so many Taiwanese medias with similar educational mission were trying to gain views on Facebook as well. Why not tried to form a business-side community, sharing our most valuable resource - fans - and directing fans from one to another medias in the community? It should work, because my audience here should be interested in educational topics at other sites, including feminism, science and social enterprise. So I tried to make the connections, and got a pretty successful outcome.
I've been a passive vegetarian for years. Passive vegetarian, in my own definition, is to not eat meat/sea food actively, but accept and enjoy it in inevitable situation. I want to consume as less meat/sea food as possible, firstly because I love animals, secondly out of environmental concern.
But I had a very struggling time at some point. Because my health wasn't in good condition since I started as a vegan, and some people were being disrespectful for my decision. The frustrations made me want to quit thinking about the animals or environment, but one book guided me to a comfortable direction.
The book is "The World's Slaughterhouse Tour", written by a Japanese author, who has crazy love for eating all kinds of meat. She wants to know where the meat comes from, and how the animals are killed/processed. So she visited slaughterhouses around the world, and documented the fascinating stories in the book.
The most important lesson I learned from the book, is not being vegetarian, but being grateful and respectful as enjoying the delicious meat. This is very important, because I then realized that I should avoid making conclusion easily before I understand the background knowledge and stories.
I'd been very angry about people not being respectful and not making the "right choices" for a while. It could be small thing such as throwing garbages on the road, or big issue such as supporting withdrawal from Paris Agreement. But why do different people make different decisions? I want to know the reason.
And I stumbled across this book called "Strangers in Their Own Land", which is the author's documentation of Trump supporters' stories and living environment. The author, Arlie Hochschild, without any understanding of Louisiana's choice, that left and right side are blocked by a huge empathy wall, failed to know each other.
She came to realize that residents in those red communities have their own deep stories, and the conversation between left and right won't be successful as long as the stories weren't told. Once again, very important lesson here about understanding the background stories.
The three books/experience gets me to think about mindset a lot. We don't necessarily need new products to solve environmental issues. Changing people's mindset is the crucial part.
It sounds like a useless concept, because isn't influencing people's mindset what all the artworks, medias and marketing campaigns attempt to do? Maybe. But I want to focus on this question: why do people like me, with same education level, with knowledge of impacts of climate change or plastic waste, still getting a new plastic bag as grabbing food from deli? This behavior is happening not because of one hasn't been educated with the facts about the negative impacts right? Because one has.
I'm fully aware that this is an extremely challenging topic to work on. My approach to make it feasible is to ignore all those groups I know nothing about, only tackling a small group of people that share similar background with me, such as ITPers.
It's very likely that I might fail or focusing on a more specific area. But this mindset shifting idea will always be the fundamental layer of future concepts. A specific area might include communication between designers and developer or programmer's awareness of energy consumption?
Hopefully I could come up with something soon.