It’s funny that we feel good when we genuinely ignore, let go of, and forget about things that bother us, yet we tell ourselves it’s wrong to do so.
Do we have a duty to pay attention to things we’d rather ignore?
Let’s start with easy stuff like the news. I’ve mostly stopped following the news, though I still briefly read the headlines.
If I stop even reading the headlines I’m pretty sure I’ll feel better. And what would I miss out on? I could throw up a list of keywords right here, and most of us will have some kind of emotional reaction to them.
Ignorance is bliss, because when we genuinely ignore something it isn’t active in our thoughts or vibration.
The Lithuanian President
The French President
The American President
Three different dignitaries will give you three different emotional reactions just at the mention of them, entirely dependent on how active they are in your thoughts and therefore how much momentum they have.
I don’t even know if Lithuania has a President. But boy do we all have an emotional reaction to the thought of America’s current leader.
We are told it’s important to be in the know, but it’s more important to feel good. If knowing about a subject makes you feel bad, then why not stop giving it attention? Let it gradually dissipate from your awareness and pay attention to things that feel good instead, even if it feels a bit strange at first.
Imagine if you could ignore all the pointless worries and interpersonal dramas that go on in life? Imagine being able to let go of any negative emotion on any subject.
The fact is that we can only give our attention to one thought at a time. Even thoughts that feel “okay” could be replaced by a thought that feels better.
Ignoring things that feel bad makes sense when we can turn our attention to something that feels less bad instead.
what tends to be widely disseminated by the media will almost certainly not be the most worthy, the most consequent, the most eloquent, most beautiful, but rather whatever provides passing satisfaction to an ideological palate which has lost the ability to distinguish between the true, the trivial and the blatantly manufactured. This might be in the form of political reporting, or celebrity gossip, or whatever is trending on social media, or inspiration porn, or coverage of some calamity, or sound bites from a popular religious figure, or sound bites from a loathed religious figure, for that matter – but they are all accorded the same status within this debauched medium.
Scott Stephens, editor of the ABC’s Religion and Ethics portal, has written an excellent piece on the role of the media in the formation of our collective moral mind:
According to Kierkegaard, the role of the popular press is effectively to inoculate the public against serious ethical reflection by peddling a placebo called opinion: a form of irresponsible speech which in no way obliges the speaker to act upon his convictions, but which can nonetheless shown off as a kind of fashion accessory.
“The great mass of people naturally have no opinion but – here it comes! – this deficiency is remedied by the journalists who make their living by renting out opinions … Gradually, as more and more people are wrenched free of the condition of innocence in which they were by no means obliged to have an opinion and are forced into the ‘condition of guilt’ … in which they must have an opinion, what can the unfortunate people do? An opinion becomes a necessary item for every member of the enormous public, so the journalist offers his assistance by renting out opinions.”
It is not surprising, then, that Evgeny Morozov regards Kierkegaard as the first and most perceptive critic of what he calls “slacktivism”: the rather dubious modern practice of incorporating political causes or one’s ethical bona fides into a carefully constructed online persona. As Kierkegaard recognised, not only does this corrupt moral sentiment itself, it also produces inconstant, ultimately exhibitionist forms of quasi-morality.
The piece is scathing, and well worth your time.