Thursday, June 11, 2015

A Second Opinion - From Ourselves

What if Facebook added another button in addition to "Like?"  Suppose it said "Cogitating."  What would you be trying to communicate by clicking that button on somebody else's Status Update?  Might the person who posted the Status Update prefer that sort of response some of the time?

A less commented upon aspect of our always on, face into our portable devices culture is how we come to react to the information we receive on those devices.  The first-thing-that-popped-into-my-mind reaction seems prized over a more deliberate sort of thinking.  The syllogism that springs from such an observation goes like this.  If we are creatures of habit, and our habit is to give snap responses, then that is how we will make judgments all the time. And we'll come to believe that making such snap judgments is thinking, though it really isn't.

I am not entirely opposed to what Malcolm Gladwell calls thin slicing of information.  It is appropriate in certain domains, where an expert is looking at information of a repetitive sort from which a pattern has already been established.  What if the determination is being made by a non-expert, or if the circumstance is a one-off, or even if it is a repeat it is one where a pattern has yet to be found?  Do we really want snap judgments to be made in these instances as well?  Perhaps the reader can identify some instances where thin slicing is still desirable.  I don't want to deny that possibility.  But would any reader want to argue that it is desirable all the time?

I'm particularly interested in making judgments of the form - this is boring, let's look at something else, or of the form - this is really bad, can't we turn our attention elsewhere?  Consider the Big Bopper's famous song Chantilly Lace and, in particular, the tag line from the song - You know what I like.  Doesn't that sound like it blocks anything new, including stuff that is potentially pleasing?

I did a Google search on "how can you avoid snap judgment" (without the quotes). On the first page of hits is a piece by Judith Johnsson at Huffington Post Healthy Living site called, Why You Should Break the Habit of Snap Judgments.  Here Johnson is referring to condemnation of others, something we do all too often, without recognizing the harm that is so created.  I agree.  We also need to stop making snap judgments about our own preferences.  There is harm in doing that as well. 

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