Diving into the Deep End of a Black Lake: the risk of too much choice.

I’ve been away for a while from this blog, very busy with a new job, kickboxing training, getting a teaching qualification and lot’s of live music, but in light of recent events I was compelled to write this, hopefully I’ll find time for more in the near future.

Diving into the Deep End of a Black Lake.

Are people stupid? What is stupidity, is it ignorance? Ignorance is being un-informed some people certainly remain purposely uninformed, they would prefer not to occupy their minds with important or challenging matters. I think of it in terms of processing ability. One of the key features of people with learning disabilities and Autism is processing information, sometimes slowly, sometimes responses are delayed, sometimes information gets muddled and many other ways. But don’t we all process differently? Isn’t intelligence just another way of processing information? I think about art and communication. You could make a good argument that the point of art is to communicate the artists idea, feelings, or at the least just an experience. However, if art fails to communicate its message (the viewer doesn’t understand) it doesn’t stop being art, if the listener doesn’t understand what is being communicated in a conversation, the communication has failed.

Is the failure of communication on the behalf of the listener (assuming they are paying attention) or is the failure on behalf of the communicator not doing their job properly? In my line of work with those who have communication impairments, if a person doesn’t understand my message, I first assume I have communicated incorrectly, not that they don’t have the capability to understand.

I ask these questions because of a very important event, the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. What this caused was the value of the £ to drop drastically, both main political parties thrown into turmoil and social unrest, mostly in the form of outright racism towards anyone not white and British. I voted remain, for me to stay is to retain diversity, retain and grow a global community. The economy is important, but people are more important. I can’t help but feel that those who voted to leave did so because of the wrong reasons. I think there are two main reasons.

  1. Many people believe that leaving will return the UK to the “good old days” in some way, before Polish workers, before Syrian refugees were an issue. What those people don’t realise is that back in the good old days, people wanted to be back in the good old days. Clearly these voters are older, mostly in rural areas and mostly don’t give a shit about the rest of the world. It is silo thinking at its worst, my country, my town, my community… me. I hate nostalgia, it prevents progress, and it prevents contemporary thought. Nothing wrong with having good memories, but time never goes backwards.
  2. You argue some of the above people are also ignorant, but what we have had in the wake of the leave vote is people regretting their decision. Didn’t think their vote would count, didn’t realise the economy would be fucked, didn’t realise that their Romanian co-worker and friend might have to leave. These are people who simply didn’t think about the actuality of making a choice.

Clearly the racist vote could fall into both of those categories. The question I asked myself was, are these people to blame for their decisions? Or are we to blame the campaigners who made on both sides mostly completely unfounded claims? It was diving into the deep end of a black lake. You wouldn’t do that without thinking?

I am a question asker, I am an observer of behaviour, I analyse and I think for myself, but I also rely on information from outside to help me do this, the processing of this information is important, and it’s this processing that makes us have individual thought, the ability to actually come up with an original concept is very difficult. But how much do we blame bad information for our choices over our own ability to process the information, if our bullshit detectors don’t work, is that our fault or the fault of the bullshitter.

Of course, people shouldn’t lie, people shouldn’t distribute incorrect information but they do, people do lie, people have biases and agenda’s, people can be selfish. Is that something we can change by voting out the dodgy politicians? In my work I have often helped people with disabilities to learn how to spot a dodgy character, someone who may take advantage and for many people who don’t have the social filter that some of us have, it becomes very challenging to identify those with bad intentions, particularly those who are also good actors. Social understand is something that generally we learn by osmosis, by seeing what happens, it’s subliminal, it’s often not conscious learning. To then translate that and explain it becomes more difficult.

In social care part of our Duty of Care is to give people informed choice, which is to say that a person can make whatever choice they want (assuming they are an adult and have legal mental capacity) provided that we have given them good information explaining in their terms, that they understand the pros and cons of that choice. For example, I am supporting a person who drinks heavily, they choose to do this with their own money on their own time. I inform them that indeed it is fun, and social but there’s a negative impact on their health and their bank balance and so on. If they then continue to drink heavily, I will reassess the way I delivered the information. Maybe I need to make a video, use pictures, discuss cheaper healthier alternatives, and help them make friends outside the pub… If a social support service doesn’t do this, they aren’t doing their job. Were the voters given informed choice? You could make an argument that by two opposing forces, both with differing arguments is informing voters, but how do we know that voters understood what was being told to them. Apparently many did not, as post referendum, some said they regretted their choice, or didn’t take it seriously and wish they had, or didn’t count on immediate economic downturn… This tells me the campaigns failed, the communication failed. Either way, whatever the outcome the voters weren’t choosing based on sound knowledge of the situation.

Is that the voters fault, should we all do more independent research? People trust those on TV, so called experts, did those people let us down? This then calls into question the voting system itself, clearly some rules around campaigning and information need refinement, but are we to assume that the people can’t choose wisely? Can’t make big choices and think beyond their own sphere of understanding and experience? Maybe, but people, ignorant or not are entitled to have their say and I believe in democracy, I believe in people’s viewpoints being heard regardless of how irrelevant or uninformed they are.

On the surface it was a binary choice, in or out. But in reality it represented much more, the choice to remove or stop other nationalities, the choice of control, the choice of joining in, independence versus community, identity and nostalgia versus globalisation and integration. Sometimes when faced with too many options we shut down to the information, we start blocking it out and can’t make a real and informed choice at all. Black and White it is not, but many saw it that way.

I voted remain, but in the long term who knows how this will affect the UK, or indeed the world. I am trying to be an optimist, but I do worry about it.


1 Comment

  1. Really well put. You pretty much expressed my views on this topic. I try to be optimistic and think people are good (deep down), but something like this happens, it makes me question that…


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