An endeavour to put empathy at the heart of community.

Nature vs Nurture

Love is love. Rage is rage. And if these are on two ends of the spectrum, then every human emotion in between is as natural and inherent in us despite our race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, geography, class, or colour. The universality of these emotions is the most beautiful thread that allows us to connect and understand each other.

Nurture on the other hand is a constructed belief system based on our socio-political, religious, geographic, class and cultural origins. This system shapes our emotions and therefore, our very being. Our emotions then become a tool of either compassion or discrimination.

So if our inherently blessed and natural emotional spectrum has the ability to unite us and the power of our nurturing to separate us; can we ever bridge this divide? Can we become a society that understands and respects each other? How do we break away from the culture of ‘othering’? Can we design a society of love and trust?

In 1929, Hungarian author Frigyes Karinthy, put forward the concept of ‘the 6 degrees of human separation’, in an ironic essay titled Chains. It fielded the idea that if any person from the 1.5 billion inhabitants of the Earth at the time could use no more than five acquaintances, only one of which would be personal, then he or she would be able to reach any desired 6th contact, anywhere on the earth.

The inventions of the 20th century, such as the internet and social media, began making this a reality. Whilst the concept kept evolving and gaining popularity, the degrees of human separation kept getting smaller with the advent of the 21st century. In 2016, less than hundred years later, Facebook reported that the distance of human separation had decreased to 3.57 degrees.

Today there may be no more than 1 or 2 degrees of separation between any two people on the face of the earth.

With that level of proximity, should it not be easier for us to understand each other? For us to walk a mile in each other’s proverbial shoes? This era of connection can lead to a society that is more understanding and compassionate. One that sheds ages old ideas of differentiation to embrace the truth of our similarities.

2 degrees of separation is our humble initiative, a start towards designing a more understanding society.

Our ongoing digital postcard series is a shareable communication tool that will elucidate the cultural associations of discrimination. Each postcard will act as a question that poses the prevalent idea, it’s historical evolution and deep rooted associations that have made them commonplace and made us insensitive and/or blind followers of it. It will give us an opportunity to build a deeper understanding, by stripping away the superficial differences and highlighting the core humanity that unites us all.

We hope to initiate dialogues and inspire change. To join us and know more, please check out our campaign on social media and be a part of the conversation.

Musings from our travels across design, art and culture. Conversations for you to take home and share. Follow us on Insta: @twodesignmumbai