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Patrick recently mentioned fractals, which was a term I recognized but couldn’t define, so I looked it up. In a nutshell, a fractal is chaos. It’s a process that’s repeated over and over again in a feedback loop. On its own, it’s microscopic, but within the feedback loop, it becomes something much larger. A snowflake. A crystal. A galaxy. While we’re surrounded by beautiful fractals, this got me thinking about the bigger picture as it relates to me. The idea of surrounding myself with echoes and feedback loops. If everyone around me is saying the same thing and hearing it repeated back, things can become chaotic and dangerous.

If one person were to head to the bank to empty an account, no big deal. They could leave with all of their cash in hand without any of us feeling an impact. However, if that same action were repeated enough, it would result in what’s known as a banking panic, a run on the banks, and the situation would quickly grow out of control. The banks would run out of cash and many of us would be left with useless IOUs from bankrupt institutions. The consequences of this repeated process would be bankrupt individuals, banks, and likely, a bankrupt country.

It’s easy to seek out a feedback loop, to surround ourselves with people that sound like us, look like us. People who share our beliefs and fears, who agree with us. It’s comfortable here. We feel validated. We feel normal. But chaos will eventually ensue, whether it’s internal or external or both. Most likely both. If I was about to do something really thoughtless or hurtful, I wouldn’t want to be surrounded by people that are going to tell me that it’s a great idea. If I have a belief that is disrespectful or hurtful to someone else, I want that to be called into question. That doesn’t mean that I would change my values or opinions, but it ensures that I’ll reevaluate frequently. I’ll think of viewpoints other than my own. I’ll try to consider and appreciate the full situation rather than my limited, possibly microscopic, view of it.