POWER OF THE NARRATIVE- And its impact on our decision making
Humans make mistakes. We are capable of overthinking, overstepping, overdoing and overindulging. Our thoughts and actions are not always positive or calm and we tend to cause harm to others and ourselves on occasions. We have good days and bad days. Right?
All of us possess beliefs that are driven by our culture, or our religion or upbringing or experiences or education or even the books we read. Over time we identify with people with the same beliefs and call it a community. We take comfort in the relatability of it all and slowly our beliefs start to dictate our actions. We become biased and emotional and often unknowingly, start seeking out information that resonates with us and shut out information that does not. This is nothing but CONFIRMATION BIAS.
For many, this is a coping mechanism. And it is a positive process, provided the beliefs are founded in optimism, hope, happiness and inclusiveness. A sense of community is very powerful. However, it can all turn awry very easily if the beliefs are stemming from revenge, negativity, fear, resentment and anger. When we are looking to find our happiness in another’s grief or another’s failure, it becomes a breeding ground for the dangerous side of confirmation bias. Negative emotions blind us and make us erratic and vulnerable. We consciously look for information that divides us without checking for it’s authenticity only because it feeds our existing beliefs. This is when we cease to be objective and don’t realize the consequences of our actions on those who are at the receiving end.
Which is why we needed the concept of the LAW. An objective assessment of situations without bias, emotions and prejudice. But, the law is seen as the last resort for us to resolve disputes or pin accountability. We have tried to first arrive at a moral compass to steer our society to a more peaceful and happy place.
For this moral compass, we look at our thought leaders to show us the way. To be selfless and inclusive in their policies. We trust our institutions and our media to be neutral and have checks and balances in place to ensure collective accountability. We lean towards spiritual gurus to guide us along the path of happiness and enlightenment. Because somewhere we all know that it is much easier to destroy than to build. It is much easier to divide than to unite. Even easier to hate than to love.
So, we’ve always needed a good influence…to counter our demons.
There are also certain professions that are considered noble and require being neutral in order for the world to stay on track and the moral compass to be intact. Like doctors, police, judges, politicians, journalists, teachers etc. Citizens who are empowered to know better. Those who rise above their own biases and work towards the GREATER GOOD. There is a code of decency, compassion and mutual respect that is expected to exist among them to ensure a healthy environment. We take this code for granted and trust it completely.
After all, they are the pillars of our society.
But with growing greed, that trust is being broken. Our leaders are no longer seeing this power as a gift but as a right. Judges are no longer seeing this faith as a privilege but as a weapon. Journalists are equally biased and wish to control our minds by feeding us what we want to hear. It is no longer a public service but a business. The greater good has taken a back seat to make way for personal gains. So, our pillars are wobbly.
And this is what is causing the explosion of FAKE NARRATIVES. Social media has given a platform to influence our already biased minds into dark areas without any direct responsibility. Anonymously, we are shown facts that we want to believe and share in order to feed that hate, to propel that anger. Facts that overwhelm us. And destroy the diverse fabric of society, targeting the weakest or the angriest minds. Even leading to violence and open bigotry. We lose perspective of right and wrong completely, and start acting on pure impulse. We become slaves of our own beliefs- in other words, we turn into fanatics.
Our tolerance is reducing by the day… and the impact of that cannot be overstated.
The effects will be worse when unemployment rises. Education dips. And superstitions take over. Attempts are already on, to take us in that direction. We will be far more vulnerable then to such fake narratives and will go into a real black hole.
We will believe myths over facts. Chants over science. Forwards over friends.
Unfortunately, we no longer have many neutral guiding forces. Those who are looking to make us empathetic and compassionate, not erratic and impulsive. Who will address our fears not fan them. Or keen to alleviate our pain not enhance it. We are left to fend for ourselves, and sadly many of us cannot. And are sitting ducks to the misinformation and hateful, divisive ideologies.
Confirmation bias is all around us. We cannot escape it. However, we can try to not let the narrative dictate our actions. We can choose to see all facts and figures before concluding. We can choose to read the entire article and not just the headlines.
Reject attempts to speculate and devise conspiracy theories. No good comes out of speculation on matters that should be black and white. So, refrain from indulging in such narratives. Spot them early and ignore.
And remember- Don’t trust what you see or read to be always verified. It is not.
It might be created just for you!