Early Writings of Evan Bailyn

The Value Of Active Thinking

Posted by on Thursday, January 19th, 2012 with 0 comments

The most interesting people I know all have one thing in common – they think about things. While thinking may not sound like a special activity, very few people use their minds actively; instead, they go through life making passive associations, allowing whatever words or images float to the forefront of their minds to convey their thoughts. This tendency to live blurrily, rather than with acuity and awareness, inhibits communication on a large scale in our society. The result is that everyday interaction has become much less meaningful than it could be.

I attribute much of this passivity to the mass consumption of popular culture. While teens are reading magazines and watching celebrity-centered television shows, their imaginations are becoming insular. The reason why popular culture has such a druglike effect on people is because it baits viewers with flashiness, action, and excitement on a level that could never exist in real life; then, when the viewer has become transfixed, it transmits opinions that slowly and over time substitute for the viewers’ actual thoughts. People regularly quote television programs and news sources as if they had personally observed the events they watched. The truth, of course, is that a relatively small group of people create the media and decide what to feature, and even outside of that core group, the majority of smaller media outlets are so heavily influenced by what they see in mass media that they end up recycling the same thoughts.

We are taught to feel embarrassed about having out-of-the-mainstream ideas as soon as we are old enough to cognize our surroundings. Certain things are right. Certain things are wrong. Certain things are normal. Certain things are peculiar. Certain things are the way they should be. Certain things are unjust. Our parents purvey most of this information to us, and television, along with the outside world, fills in the rest. Our tastes and preferences are handed to us rather than decided by us. Yet the mainstream isn’t the one that wakes up every day in your body, whose pulse travels in just the way yours does, whose singular store of memories shapes your perceptions. Therefore, it has no right to control your thoughts.

Naturally, there are original thinkers among us, but they are overwhelmed by the masses of programmed people. To make matters more complicated, even those with good intentions – people who try to think on their own – end up adopting thought processes that, despite purporting to oppose the majority view, actually are just different types of passive thinking. The alternative crowd, the revolutionary crowd, and even the anarchist crowd have not differentiated themselves, but rather, they have classified themselves. Trying to distinguish yourself by belonging to a group is a fruitless activity. Our deepest beliefs come from an internal truth that is as unique as our personal experiences and the makeup of our brains.

I used to “know” that Mozart’s music was better than Tupac’s, that an opera was more meaningful than a Disney Movie, and that Shakespeare was a better writer than the girl I used to like in my English class. Now that I’ve gotten to thinking actively, I know exactly the opposite. Those beliefs may challenge the notions of all of the passive thinkers out there, but in my little world – the one that no one but me can control – that’s the way things are.

As challenging as it can be to unravel everything you believe and look at each event in a fresh light, doing so will spare you anguish on a mental, emotional, and spiritual level. Do not try to be unique for the sake of other people; be unique because you can’t help it.

Evan Bailyn is a serial entrepreneur, search engine and social media expert, celebrated author and child advocate. His company, First Page Sage, is a leader in search engine optimization and social media marketing - vastly increasing business for its clients through high SEO rankings, targeted Facebook advertising and viral videos. Evan is also the founder of the Evan Bailyn Foundation, a foundation dedicated to teaching emotional awareness to children and adults. 

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