Is Ignorance Bliss?
I often find myself wondering about commonly used phrases and their meanings. It is why I talk about why the words that we choose matter over and over.
During the challenges of the past year (the global pandemic and social isolation), I found myself blissfully disconnecting from social media and even the news to give myself a break from all the trappings of death, illness, conspiracy theories, hate, anger, and unrest. When I thought about my choice, I wondered if I was allowing myself to be ignorant?
And in all honesty, I think I was.
I was intentionally deciding to “not know” what was flooding the news and social media for days at a time. In these moments of “escape,” I found myself less stressed and a little happier. But herein lies the challenge.
How long is it OK to remain ignorant?
Ignorance can be blissful. It literally means lack of knowledge or information. If we lack knowledge or lack information about something, we don’t have to worry about it, we don’t have to change it, we don’t have to take responsibility for it, and we don’t have to even think about it.
But what happens when we choose to be ignorant for prolonged periods of time? What happens when we choose to be ignorant about issues that reach beyond our immediate environment or have a larger social impact?
Overcoming Unconscious Bias
Do you ever ask yourself what underlying meaning is embedded in a phrase that reaches beyond the dictionary definitions of the words? Do you ever do an assessment of the words you choose to use or that your institution uses on company documents or media?
You Make More Choices than You Realize
It is easy to be ignorant. It takes no effort to be ignorant. The word ignorance is often used as a criticism, but in reality, it is a choice.
We have the power to choose whether to seek out information or additional knowledge. It is a choice to build awareness of the reality that exists beyond the limits of our own lens.
No one person can have all the answers or see all the possibilities by themselves. But we can overcome the limits of our own perspectives if we remain curious, adopt a growth mindset, and surround ourselves with diverse voices.
Blind Spots and Bias are Everywhere.
Blind spots and bias are everywhere. Some are obvious and others are not. But one thing they all have in common is that they create barriers. And many of these barriers are created unconsciously or accidentally by individuals, interactions, and institutional policies. These unconscious thoughts and actions often maintain the status quo without us understanding why, because we are falling prey to things like confirmation bias, affinity bias, attribution bias, and many other biases.
Connecting the Dots: Socialization
Our views, beliefs, and opinions are formed by our own lived experiences. They are shaped by parents, close family and friends, teachers, mentors, peers, and even our exposure to mass media. Our sense of who we believe ourselves to be and who we believe others to be is also developed within this context. Outside social forces influence how we think, act, and respond far more than we realize or want to admit.
Over the course of the next few posts, I will challenge you to work on building your understanding of why you think, act, and respond the way that you do. Once individuals begin to understand why they think, act, and respond the way that they do, they can start to make conscious choices to overcome the unintentional barriers and blind spots created by them.
Awareness leads to action, and action leads to sustainable change.
In order to create real, sustainable change, we have to be willing to do the work. Change is a process.
Check back for more on this discussion in the next SHYFT post.
By Kristin Heck Sajadi, Founder and CEO at Shyft Strategies, LLC
Sajadi is a sociologist, entrepreneur and developer of the Shyft5 TM program – helping individuals and organizations build social awareness as a business asset to shyft the status quo.
Shyft5 TM program tackles challenges and builds awareness—the benchmark for effective communication, productive interaction, and thriving cultures in today’s organizations.
At Shyft Strategies, we help you uncover the obstacles and barriers preventing you from reaching your goals. We help you navigate today’s new business and human capital reality. The first step to moving forward is increasing awareness. Awareness isn’t just learning a new fact or statistic. It is connecting the dots between the reality of what is and why, so that we can consciously and cognitively shyft to what can be and how.