Outsourced Curiosity

curiosity The most import attribute of being successful has got to be curiosity, more importantly, meandering curiosity. A curious mind is an adventurous mind. With the age of the internet, curiosity is just a click away! With each link-click brings a new resource, new adventure. But with social media, our curiosity is being outsourced. Our curiosity is ceasing to zigzag, disallowing us to stumble onto novel ideas, original ways of thinking, etc... 

Have you ever opened Facebook scrolled to the bottom having read each article that aligned with only your political or social beliefs? Or ever looked at each picture that caught only your eye? At the surface level, that might seem like a general function of curiosity. You see something that sparks your interest and you consume that information or imagery. But are we indeed the ones being curious? Or is it someone else, perhaps even a machine? 
This affect is called the Affect Heuristic and it's explained quite nicely in Dale Kahneman's book Thinking, Fast and Slow“The Affect Heuristic: The dominance of conclusions over arguments is most pronounced where emotions are involved. The psychologist Paul Slovic has proposed an affect heuristic in which people let their likes and dislikes determine their beliefs about the world. Your political preference determines the arguments that you find compelling."


Are we the gatekeepers, letting ideas filter through based off curated processes and algorithms, essentially programmatically outsourcing the initial spark of curiosity? Rather, are we offloading the difficult task of seeking out our own pleasures and establishing our own values? Or instead conforming with the pleasures of our tribe or hell, even a Yelp review?


This filtering mechanism is mutually beneficial and harmful.

Benefits

  • Allows us to filter information that only applies to our sensibilities. 
  • Allows us to communicate with like minded individuals on subjects that we are informed about. 
  • Allows us to stay within our comfort zone of conformity (....could be viewed as harmful, but only if you live a more adventurous life). 

Harms

  • Forces us to conform to the biased filters we have (often times, subconsciously) setup. 
  • Forces us to habitualize the fallacy that our opinions are the single source of truth and that any contrarian view point is wrong. 
  • Orthogonal ideas and stimuli are shut off in order to regulate our emotional pain and pleasure centers of the brain.