Published on 2023-05-09 by GCH

Simplism is dragging us down

Sometimes the view in front of us might not look especially sharp but we can still grasp the big picture. Other times the huge pixels of oversimplification cover up all nuances of reality. When decision making is based on pixelized inputs, what results should we expect?

It is clear that consumption sophistication is on a steep rise while consumer sophistication is stagnant and shows no signs of improvement. Simplism has become endemic.

I recently found myself thinking that we communicate with the entire world at any time of the day, we've covered the planet with satellites and optical fiber, we can travel virtually anywhere, we buy products made in a ton of places, we go out for Thai food, Italian food, Vegan or Paleo, we have smartphones, HD home cinemas, and self-driving cars. Yet we have absolutely no clue how the world is up and running. We fail to understand economics, statistics, engineering, and science.

Between 2010 and 2013, some of the world's most developed countries – yes, I mean Europe – couldn’t tell whether or not they were facing bankruptcy! Their citizens split into opposing factions and ran to the social networks; using 4G smartphones, they threw up arguments as sound as those voiced by hooligans after a good thirty pints of beer. In 2020, the pandemic hit and a similar process took place. It is now 2023, an AI revolution is in progress and I fear for the sanity of the debates.

As consumers, we demand experiences of growing sophistication. As citizens, we've grown to demand simple explanations. Everything from politics to public health or technology has become a matter of opinion, and must be addressed in definitive single sentences. This paradox of modern times is prevalent but hardly noticed.

We are, however, indirectly paying the price of our self-inflicted simplism. When it comes to decision making, the more simplistic the discussion, the more complex the consequences. An environment of simplism and polarization prevents sophisticated discussions from happening, dragging down any serious hopes of progress and causing harm to our social cohesion.

Can something be done? Sure, let's start by acknowledging we have a problem.