Anorak | The comfort of censorship and willful blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious

The comfort of censorship and willful blindness: Why We Ignore the Obvious

by | 2nd, February 2015

willful blind


Debate is dying. Free speech is under threat. We are living in the Age of Comfort. We are the willful blind. Is that new? No, says Margaret Heffernan. She examines what “we could know, and should know, but don’t know because it makes us feel better not to know… the more tightly we focus, the more we leave out.”

We enjoy the peace of mind darkness brings.

She comments on the message:

“[Media companies] know that when we buy a newspaper or a magazine, we aren’t looking for a fight… The search for what is familiar and comfortable underlies our media consumption habits in just the same way as it makes us yearn for Mom’s mac ’n’ cheese. The problem with this is that everything outside that warm, safe circle is our blind spot.”

And it’s neural :

To build that sense of self-worth, we surround ourselves with people and information that confirm it. Overwhelmingly, we prefer people like ourselves and there is a solid physiolo­gical reason why. The brain can’t handle all the information it is presented with, so it prioritises. What gets a head start is information that is already familiar and what is most familiar to us is us.

So, we feel most comfortable with people and ideas we already know. Just like Amazon’s recommendation engine or eHarmony’s online dating programmes, our brain searches for matches, because building on the known makes for highly efficient processing. At a trivial

You have already read 1 premium article for free today
Access immediately the premium content with Multipass

Or come back tomorrow

Posted: 2nd, February 2015 | In: News Comment | Follow the Comments on our RSS feed: RSS 2.0 | TrackBack | Permalink