I am interested in understanding what makes something obvious. “Something,” in this circumstance, really refers to anything from cultural icons to phrases to terminologies. I am curious about.. “what makes” a thing obvious to large groups of people? Put another way, I am interested in understanding what makes something understood and accepted by the masses?
While I think the complete answer to this question is nuanced, and full of context-based complexity, I am deeply intrigued by understanding how we think about “generally accepted truths?”
Stealing is bad. Being healthy is good.
Are those obvious statements? Have they always been this way?
In previous societies, were thieves admired? Were fat people the wealthy and looked up to?
What changed? And how did we get here?
These are the types of questions I ask…and I apply them from a forward looking perspective as well…I ask about “what is true today but not necessarily obvious to everyone?”
Why is said thing not obvious to everyone? What is the missing link? And how long will it take for everyone to accept this thing as the truth?
I care about this nuance because I think there is often a massive delta between “what is obvious to you and your close friends” and “what is obvious to the rest of society.” This delta, in the short run, often leads to misunderstandings.
Sometimes you are wrong and society is right. This is the case most of the time (maybe). But sometimes you are on to something…you know something that is true yet not known by the world.
“Obviousness” is, of course, only justifiable in a particular context.
How do we get more good things about the world to be generally accepted and, in fact, obvious to future generations? At the same time, how do we reject the status quo and constantly ask ourselves about the “obvious things in life?” Should they be that way?
Also published on Medium.