Blissful ignorance is a dangerous bliss. I think perpetuating the myth in itself is dangerous. It’s either a way for liars to convince themselves they should keep on lying, or a way for clever people to patronise those they think are less clever.
Clever people thinking they are clever are the least pleasant people. Quickly followed by wilful liars.
Confusion, well, that’ probably an appropriate response to modern life.
Reading Vinay Gupta’s blog recently (it’s the best blog I’ve read ever, probably, although also the scariest), I was struck by more than a few things he said. One particularly obvious point was that our brains have not evolved for the world in which we live. It’s very easy to see the extent to which humanity has changed the environment around us. We live in cities, drown in information and connect with the whole planet (at least on some level or another). Our brains were not moulded into a shape ready to deal with this, and this is why our lives end up being weird, and why a lot of things are wrong with our society.
Our brains are heaving with instincts and understandings that are fairly hardwired in. It’s things like the Dunbar number, suggesting we should only really know 150 people. Anything more than that, and we have to change the rules and real community becomes difficult (or impossible).
We bond with people using pack instincts and tribal socialisation that makes sense on the plains, but doesn’t necessarily lead to a rational way of a life dealing with cities and facebooks.
What I’m trying to say is that perpetually confused is natural. We are living weird lives. The question is how do we use that. If we don’t try and deal with this situation, we may as well be blissfully ignorant, and some day soon, when the whole thing starts to crumble and fall, it’s going to fall harder than we can deal with.
Confusion doesn’t do the harm that ignorance does, because it’s part of a learning process. It’s something that acts as a basis for understanding, if you’re lucky. The only reason for it’s perpetuity is because understanding can often break through to whole new layers of confusion. Confusion is a starting point, while ignorance is a road block.
Of course, I’m attacking this from a rather narrow set of assumptions. It’s quite rude for me to assume you think the same way.
For me, happiness is not in itself enough.
If that’s all your after, and you aren’t bothered by the state of the future, then please carry on with your bliss. I have no right to judge you, everyone is entitled to their own choices. And ignoring stuff is a choice that can be made, and it will almost certainly make it easier to be happy.
But I’m convinced there’s more important things. Things that warrant paying attention to the world.
Things that warrant spending a life confusedly trying to make some kind of impact.
Illustration by Jaime.