Let’s face it, with influencers influencing, amazon suggesting, advertisements proposing, algorithms deciding, instruments calculating and general data nudging us in a specific direction, there really isn’t much left for our little grey cells to do; if we don’t remain alert.
Inundated, as never before, by inordinate amounts of information all day long, one of the chosen options, for those bravely trying to stay afloat, is skimming or topical reads that can translate into missed information, misinformation or accepting downright fake news as true.
Most of all, there is the impossibly fast pace at which all this information is transmitted, and received. And the dizzying turnaround time in which a reply or comment is expected. Possibly, in the name of speed, we could be morphing into lazy thinkers and thereby falling prey to untruths.
Are you on automatic pilot as you speedily hit like left and right? Do you agree or disagree with comments made by others without actually having analyzed, or fact checked because you are strapped for time? Do you reply based on feelings of pressure, intimidation, necessity or fear of backlash as you try to keep up with everyone else?
If there is no time for critical/analytical thinking, we revert to intuition, instinct, gut feeling (all valid but not as stand alones). That means we wield our immense power (one example: the omnipotent and coveted thumbs up) based on split second decisions. While this may be commendable, in principal, based on a desire to keep up and not leave anyone out, what are we actually thinking, if at all, before replying? And what are our lazy thinking answers producing?
What does lazy thinking produce?
A great example to illustrate this is a scene from the movie Bruce Almighty. Jim Carrey’s character, overwhelmed by the tonnes of emails he needs to read and reply to, saves time by typing the answer YES to all of them, which in turn produces the obvious disastrous repercussions. Repercussions that, in real life, can go from bashing to full blown threats and from undeserved opportunities to damaged reputations.
On various platforms you can easily find aggressive one-sided “exchanges” of unfounded/false information between participants that didn’t bother to fact check or get informed. Threads loaded with expletives and misleading stereotypes based on emotionally fueled, negatively charged diatribes. Falsehoods that perpetuate, if left unchallenged, divisiveness and exclusion and even obliteration.
Swedish physician and author, Hans Rosling, states, “Wrong generalizations are mind-blockers for all kinds of understanding. The gap instinct divides the world into “us” and “them” and the generalization instinct makes “us” think of “them” as all the same.”
It is necessary to respectfully challenge with facts
Alain de Botton points out, “Our brittle defensive structures lead to impoverishment; we can’ t make progress in our lives if we keep generalizing about issues which are at heart particular in nature.”
Let’s be honest, large numbers legitimize and give clout. If millions of people like it or bought it, it must be true and valid. No need to waste time checking it out. Who says? Maybe yes, maybe no or maybe somewhere in the middle. What has made us so quick to unquestioningly accept anything floating out there as the be-all and end-all? It is as if once something has been repeatedly voiced or written it must be true.
We cannot stop the pace with which we move today, but we can certainly decide how to deal with it. Deciding where to devote our time, which topics we truly care about, sorting through the inane and the useful, checking sources (Snopes.com, FactCheck.org, PolitiFact, Hoax Slayer etc..), reading multiple and differing opinions, and producing well thought independent commentary will ward off lazy thinking habits.
More importantly, conversations (even and especially animated discussions from opposing sides and composed of a cross section of the population) when based on fact, have the power to inform, expand, solve or resolve, improve and create.
This will most definitely ensure a better quality of life for all.