Discernment in the Age of Big Data

By: | April 10, 2017

Discernment is an important skill that will help you make good decisions in a MultiDentity Age. Discernment is the ability to weigh and judge the experiences and information in your life. The importance of going beneath the surface of an issue to make thoughtful judgments about the issues you’re facing is critical to your success and the success of society as a whole.

We’re already operating in an interdependent and unified web of personal, business, professional, and social connections—both real and virtual. The presence of Big Data and big money means that everything we do, both on and offline, leaves digital traces. Every purchase we make with our bank cards, every search we type into Google, every movement we make with our mobile phone in our pocket, every “like” is stored. Especially every “like.” Sophisticated algorithms use our data to influence us through sound bites and spin served up in scary or entertaining ways that appeal to our strongly held preferences and established patterns.

As a result, many of us, and our colleagues, neighbors, elected leaders, and community members have only a smattering of understanding of crucial issues; The combination of big data and big money often manipulate us into accepting our default assumptions without further discernment. Without the skill of discernment, propaganda and superstition can play into our fears, and our lack of deeper knowledge is used to sway our opinion purposefully. If we’re not careful, we can be taken in by the false and the frivolous. In a MultiDentity Age discernment and critical thinking are life skills as important as basic math and should be reinforced by all our societal institutions especially in schools.

The process of discernment is particularly essential in the MultiDentity Age because we need enough accurate information to grasp and weigh many conflicting viewpoints. These conflicting views will originate from differing belief systems, worldviews, lenses, and ideologies.

Sometimes to find the “truth” you must ignore autopilot. In doing so, you may be surprised to find there is some “truth” embedded in many competing points of view. Honest discernment may lead you to shift ideas you once held because you have allowed your intellectual and intuitive comprehension (not your autopilot) to lead you.

Discernment is a quality that can serve you well in every aspect of your life as you interact with your family, colleagues and community members. If you’re open and willing, thoughtful discernment will help you discard the limitations of “old truths” that no longer serve you or society. Success in the MultiDentity Age, requires the ability adapt and grow.

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