Friday, November 6, 2009

Explanation, Justification and Blame in the Modern World

An army major kills several of his fellow soldiers at Fort Hood.  Instantly, efforts are made by the media and bloggers, and others, not simply to report what happened, but to "explain" it.  Indeed, it seems that very shortly after such an event occurs, reporting becomes a secondary concern.  With "explanation" comes blame, and justification.  Technology is now such that this all occurs instantly, as well.

The speed with which this all occurs discourages critical thinking.  Analysis is instant as well and, because it is instant, it's not thoughtful, and may be misinformed.  But, it is there, and exists permanently, in cyberspace, for all to see.

One must be well-informed, and have the opportunity to think, in order to think well.  Because time is of the essence (to use a well-known legal phrase) in today's media and culture, and on the Internet, not only is critical thinking discouraged--thinking itself is discouraged.  There simply is no time to think.  One must get one's thoughts and words out there, as quickly as possible.  Ultimately, nothing else is as important.

Does the speed and ease with which we can all now communicate induce us to express our thoughts, desires, hates, etc., without taking the time or trouble to actually think about them?  In other words, does it encourage us to proclaim to the world at large what is most irrational in us?  If this is the case, we may become completely reactive in our participation in the world, and react unthinkingly.  Conduct will be blamed, or justified, without reasonable basis.  We may come to judge the appropriateness of our own conduct with the same thoughtless speed as we judge the conduct of others, and as we see others judge the conduct of others.  Then, we may act accordingly.  That is something to be feared.

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