Thursday, August 9, 2012

Differences Among "Like-Minded" Individuals

I was recently reminded of how much views can vary on certain topics, even among like-minded individuals. This is something I run into quite often, and frequently it seems that many of my views are in the minority in these, mostly online, communities.

The latest example was when a discussion of Mother Earth News Magazine turned to a discussion of an article about MAX, the 100-mpg Car. This is a project I've been following closely since it began. I've exchanged a couple of emails with the builder, and was able to see the car firsthand and talk with him at the 2011 Mother Earth News Fair in Seven Springs, PA. This sort of thing excites me, because it proves that such a car can be built, regardless of what the major auto manufacturers claim.

I was surprised, when a couple of people suggested that a car like MAX was not practical, because of its lack of cargo space. My initial reaction was to wonder how anyone could criticize a car that could go 100 miles on a gallon of gas. A car like MAX would be perfect for me. Since Andrea and I have no kids, we rarely need more than two seats. Most often we require little to no cargo space. On the day's I drive to the office, for example, I only need room for myself and my laptop. In fact, if I get a motorcycle, I should be able to easily carry everything I need on many trips, even though it will have far less cargo room than MAX would. I'm also seriously interested in the Smart Cars, specifically the Smart ForTwo. I don't think we'd ever buy one, though, especially since I don't expect to be in the market for a new car for years, but small, fuel efficient vehicles are something I am very attracted to.

Its easy to think that, being in a community of like-minded individuals, everyone is going to share your views on a related topic. In a community focused on sustainable living, it seems logical that everyone would be excited by the prospect of a car that gets 100 mpg. The fact is, though, that there are many reasons why this would not be the case. A car like this would not be practical for everyone. When I step back and look at it objectively, that's easy to see. However, I still find myself being repeatedly surprised by things such as this.

A general trend that I've found, and been surprised by, in sustainable living communities is that there are far fewer environmentalists than I expected. Environmentalism is a big driver for my interest in simplicity and sustainable living. There are many other factors, but my concern for the environment is a big one. What I've learned, however, is that there are few self-proclaimed environmentalists in most of these communities. There are many more preppers/survivalists, it seems, interested in sustainable living than there are environmentalists. There are also a great number of people interested in the lifestyle as a means of becoming more independent and self-reliant. There are many reasons why people choose to go down the path, and those reasons impact the topics they are interested in and how they view certain issues.

It is sometimes difficult to find a good community, even online, of individuals who share common interests. This applies not just to sustainable living, but to other topics as well. It is important to learn to focus on the similarities, and not the differences. This is especially important for me, as it seems that there aren't a lot of others who share my unique blend of views and interests. I've love to hear from others out there who share my views.

1 comment:

  1. I've noticed the same things, but I suppose it doesn't usually bother me that much. Maybe I'm used to it. My older brother and I have a lot in common, and almost nothing in common. That is, we are interested in the same results, but work to achieve them in different ways. He wants to live more sustainably and, since his recent diabetes diagnosis, more healthfully. He does so by raising and hunting much of his own food. He has 2 gardens every year -- one in his tiny backyard, and another in one of my mom's adjacent bottoms -- and goes hunting and fishing at every opportunity. Most of our interaction has to do with these tasks, and we share gripes about what we agree might be government intrusion. Otherwise, however, he's a very conservative person, politically and socially, and I consider him to be immoral and selfish. We're not exactly best friends. :P

    In general, I've found that many (if not most) of the people who share an interest in this kind of lifestyle are doing so for purely selfish reasons. They appear to have no interest in serving as a positive example, and I see little evidence of any concern for others or the environment. I think this is where the crucial difference lies.