Why the Why is Important
On independent thinking in society
There is a critical lack of independent thinking across society these days that blows my mind, so I felt like jotting down some ideas about it. Some ideas are more reasoned out than others, some are more nuanced than others, none are close to complete and all have lots of room for further expansion. Enjoy.
We live in a society where no one asks ‘why’ anymore.
Even when they ask why, they don’t ask why they’re asking why
They don’t ask who is influencing them into asking why and why they’re influencing
Or if biases are influencing them to ask why and why they have those biases in the first place
The nuance and depth in ‘why’ has been eradicated.
Groupthink is the norm, and always has been
Safety in numbers, it’s instinctual to seek out approval and support
It is easier to become popular or favored by holding consensus ideas
You are rewarded for holding and espousing consensus ideas, so why diverge?
You feel more valued for holding these ideas, thus you spread them more, and the cycle continues
You are conditioned to search for social approval
It has become socially acceptable to only think within a range of ideas
Consensus thinking trims off much of the nuance in arguments, and even dispels the platform for legitimate debate
We can see this in the case of cancel culture
Cancel culture makes thinking in itself a social performance
A majority of these consensus ideas are consensus for a reason, because they benefit the consensus (most of society), which is good
But where do we draw the line?
People don’t feel safe to ask ‘why’ anymore, and this is unimaginably dangerous.
Majority rule oftentimes leaves the minorities out, for better or worse
There will come a time when the consensus is harmful to itself and without independent thinkers or minority thinkers to provide alternatives, a collapse
Once people are conditioned to stop asking questions, what happens?
Step back from just arguing what’s right or wrong
Start asking what right or wrong even mean
Who decides what is right or wrong? And why?
There is so much cognitive dissonance in society.
People want to be spoonfed information but don’t want to be responsible when the food fed to them is spoiled
You gave the spoon the power to force feed you
People want to make money without asking why
You constantly beg influencers to tell you what coins to buy, but when you lose it all on a pump-and-dump shitcoin they shilled you blame them
“Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely” - some dead smart guy
Be careful who you give power to
Your attention and social approval is that power
People complain about lack of control but the start of regaining that control is regaining your independent thinking
Social consensus and its underlying assumptions/biases are limiting
People assume others are like them, or should be like them
When you grow up surrounded by people that all agree with you, you become complacent
Your ability to consider other perspectives and circumstances is diminished
This is no fault to the individual, it’s in the underpinnings of society to condition people to become tribal in order to unite, organize, and survive
The key is recognizing this to be able to think outside of it
It is not popular to think outside of social consensus, because you don’t get the same social rewards and support as you would with just agreeing with consensus
It’s ironic that most of humanity’s progression has been driven by independent thinkers outside of social consensus
Innovation is driven by independent thinking and asking why because instead of becoming complacent with existing structures, it expands beyond them
So it’s funny that society looks down on these innovators and independent thinkers until their ideas become consensus
The path to consensus is arduous and outright dangerous sometimes
It is extremely limiting for those with exceptional skillsets
People worship Elon and Bezos but bully smart kids in school for trying too hard. Huh?
People call entrepreneurs and their idea crazy for years before adoption goes mainstream
Can’t imagine the countless brilliant ideas and people that got filtered out and disregarded by society
Guess it’s a form of social filtering for better or worse
Reminds of (fictional) short story of Harrison Bergeron (google it)
Shorter attention spans and avoidance of conflict leads to people not having the cognitive capabilities to ask the right questions or dig deep enough anymore before giving up
Social media conditions us to focus on things for shorter and shorter amounts of time, to constantly shift attention, to keep your eyeballs on viral and consensus ideas
The will power cost is too high to think differently
Why diverge when it is so comfortable to be spoonfed your social media feed of information
Holding different ideas is scary
We see this with being early
Being early to a crypto project or idea is scary. You constantly check if other people are tweeting about it and get antsy if you don’t see approval
Have you ever asked why?
You’ve been conditioned to look for social consensus, to ask for social agreement before executing on an idea. And for the rest of human existence this fear of being early, of being different, will continue to be a barrier to entry, adoption, and thinking. But let it be a frontier for you to exploring and pushing. Think for yourself. Or someone else will.
Some final ideas to provoke more thought:
If you’re not thinking for yourself, are you truly an individual?
How important is it to be an individual?
What does it even mean to be an individual?
Why am I even asking you these questions?
Why are you even listening to me?
Why the Why?