We process all kinds of information every day via the internet, TV, newspaper and stories people tell us. We take it in, put it in categories in our minds and move on. Most of what we read and hear does not have a big emotional impact especially if it doesn't involve us directly. We believe it or not and move on.
Sometimes we act on what we learn. Early this week I read about an otter that attacked a man on the river near my house. It reminded me that I got a post card from the vet that Molly Mutt was due for her rabies shot. And I acted.
We act on other things we hear. Our interest in spending time with friends, family or organizations shifts with what we hear. We process the information - decide if it is credible and act accordingly.
Unless the information is emotionally charged, we do that without a lot of drama, and just ride the closest current.
When the information is emotionally charged, the current is much more swift and our reactions to it are generally more deeply entrenched. Once we have processed the information we first heard, it's very difficult to process conflicting information. That's especially true if we like to think of ourselves as impartial.
With some humor I can look back at situations in recent years when I have encountered someone who brought up a conflict and when I started to react to their comment, they quickly stopped me. "I can see both sides," they would say or "I don't want to get involved". What humors me is knowing they had listened extensively to one side of the story. Their comment told me, "I already have an opinion and don't want to hear what you have to say."
We are all so very connected. It's nearly impossible to remain neutral about much of anything. We may try to act impartial but in our minds, we have formed opinions about everything we know. Sooner or later we will do or say something based on that opinion.
I learned to keep several layers of separation. Neutral parties are used by the cunning. We are so interconnected that proximity alone is a message. The current is stronger closest to the source. You have to swim much harder if you intend to stay in place and not get swept into it.