Behavior

Context Myopia: A Rapidly Spreading Affliction

An affliction is spreading in our society. It’s all over the news. New variants are appearing. Social media can’t shut up about it. We’re surrounded.

Of course, I’m talking about Context Myopia.

Unlike real myopia—nearsightedness of the eyes—Context Myopia is a disease of the brain. Specifically, it affects the dorsolateral prefrontal right cortex and medial prefrontal cortex–the brain’s portions most involved with time perception and moral judgment, respectively.

You—yes, you—probably know someone suffering from this malady.

Symptoms of context myopia include:

  • Hypocrisy
  • Heel Planting (Podum Subseritis)
  • Cherry picking
  • Rushing to judgment
  • Pearl clutching (Margaritarenza)
  • Overemphasis on identity
  • Witch hunting
  • Monday Morning Quarterbacking
  • Egomania
  • Selective outrage
  • Jumping to conclusions
  • Riding high horses (Equine Altumitis)

Do these symptoms sound familiar? Do you know someone suffering from Context Myopia?

Are you concerned that you might catch this disease? Or worse yet, that you might already be suffering?

“If you don’t know history, it’s as if you were born yesterday.”

-Howard Zinn

Here are some curative steps you can take.

Step 1: Give Yourself Time

Many Context Myopiacs report that they feel compelled to react to stimuli as quickly as possible.

Patience is a virtue. But patience is antithetical to righteous anger.

“Why wait to justify righteous anger when my gut tells me I’m right…right now?!”

-Symptomatic Context Myopiac

Alas, the problem with righteous anger is that it’s not always rational. More simply, it’s not always right.

Patience provides time, and time allows us to parse through more data. If done correctly, patience helps us find more truth.

Traditionally, reading a single headline on RadicalNewWorldOrder.com does not provide the context needed to make an intelligent judgment.

Patience adds context. Context, of course, is often missing for those who suffer from Context Myopia.

Step 2: Clean Your Ears

A pathognomonic sign of Context Myopia is poor listening skills. Therefore, a common at-home remedy for Context Myopia is to practice listening skills.

Are you a good listener? Take this quick questionnaire:

  • Are you present? In the moment? Attentive?
  • Are you open-minded and inquisitive in conversation? Do you ask follow-on questions?
  • Are you empathic and understanding? Do you put yourself in the proverbial shoes of others?
  • Are you actually listening? Or simply waiting for your turn to talk?

Improved listening skills have been found to significantly assuage the symptoms of Context Myopia.

Medical professionals theorize that listening to others helps us understand them. This understanding presents as higher levels of compassion and lower levels of judgment.


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Step 3: Check for Common Ground

While certain diseases suggest you check for lumps or a rash, those suffering from Context Myopia are recommended to check for common ground.

“Common ground” is rarely a physical landscape but is a metaphysical landscape between multiple people and their opinions.

Humans are diverse and varied. We have different ideas, backgrounds, goals, passions, etc. But we frequently share more than meets the eye. This “shared space” is common ground.

Have you checked for common ground recently? It’s easy to miss. Be thorough in your search!

Finding common ground has been associated with a rapid decrease in the symptoms of Context Myopia. In fact, there appears to be a positive correlation between finding common ground and subsequent increases in friendship and mutual respect.

Step 4: Mirror Staring

Michael Jackson once opined:

“If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself, and then make a change.”

Michael Jackson, “Man in the Mirror”

While this is a banal platitude perhaps best kept in pop music, the advice to “take a look at yourself” helps mitigate Context Myopia.

We have all done stupid things. We have all had emotional over-reactions. We’ve been factually incorrect. We’ve made mistakes—perhaps even committed crimes—that we may or may not have been punished for.

And yet, 97% (unofficially) of Context Myopiacs forget this fact and cast judgment from their high horses (Equine Altumitis).

Mirror staring is a proven remedy to remind oneself, “I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes. Perhaps I should show other people some grace.”

You might respond:

“But they’re so different than me! Why do I owe them any grace?!”

-Obvious Context Myopiac

Ahh, yes, a typical retort from someone deep in the throes of Context Myopia. Perhaps this person hasn’t yet checked for common ground or given themselves time to ponder an appropriate reaction.

The evidence is clear. Context myopia requires a holistic treatment.

Textbook Cases of Context Myopia

Let’s review a few common, unbiased cases of Context Myopia. If you feel yourself getting a little hot under the collar while reading this, remember this: being hot under the collar (Fervus Subtorquem) is a textbook symptom of Context Myopia.

Proximity is Not Causation

“Person A commits a crime. That person is Demographic A. The victim was of Demographic B. Therefore, the crime was motivated by the difference in their demographics.”

Whoa now! That sounds like it might be Context Myopia. An overemphasis on identity and rushing to judgment are textbook symptoms. Don’t jump to conclusions too quickly.

Trillions of tiny interpersonal acts occur every day, and each of those acts has confounding factors. Demographics are a null variable in the vast majority of those acts. This is an oft-neglected fact for Context Myopiacs.

Past Actions, Current Standards

“Nowadays, we consider THIS BAD THING to be heinous. But Person A did THIS BAD THING 50 years ago when different cultural norms applied. Nevertheless, I will judge Person A by today’s standards!”

We’ve made a lot of cultural progress in the past 20, 50, 100 years. And there’s plenty of runway in front of us for futher progress.

During these progressions, many individuals have improved, learned lessons, found errors in their past ways. Things are getting better.

But a Context Myopiac would neglect all of this progress and judge an individual’s past actions using current standards. Some would call this “moving the goalposts.”

This isn’t an excuse to rewrite or whitewash history. Far from it, in fact. Instead, it’s a suggestion to add as much context as possible when viewing history.

“What About Me?!”

“Why are you forcing ME to do this thing that I don’t want to do?! What about MY feelings? What about MY rights? I want to speak to your manager…”

Yes, what about you? Context Myopiacs often suffer near-sightedness of context and near-sightedness of person. The world, of course, is comprised of 7 billion versions of “me.”

I don’t even have to make up a fake Latin or Greek name for this. It already has one—narcissism!

context myopia
Narcissus, enchanted by his own reflection

One particular “me” rarely deserves to pull rank over larger group concerns. And yet, the Context Myopiac will quickly use the “violation of ‘me'” in their arguments. Perhaps you’ve seen this first-hand at a Customer Service booth near you?

You are unique. You have rights. You deserve liberty. Just like everybody else.

Medication Is Available

Context Myopia might be a factor in your life, but you can change that. Remember the four steps towards a cure:

  1. Give Yourself Time (to make good judgements)
  2. Clean Your Ears (and truly listen)
  3. Check for Common Ground (we’re more common than you think)
  4. Look in the Mirror (but not for too long, Narcissus!)

Together, we can add more context to our dialogue and begin solving problems that matter.

Thank you for reading! If you enjoyed this article and want to read more, I’d suggest checking out my Archive or Subscribing to get future articles emailed to your inbox.

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About Jesse Cramer

Jesse Cramer created The Best Interest to explain personal finance and investing in simple terms. His writing has been featured by CNBC, MSN, The Motley Fool, and other national publications. He resides in Rochester, NY with his girlfriend and their dog. Follow him on Twitter: @BestInterest_JC
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4 thoughts on “Context Myopia: A Rapidly Spreading Affliction

  1. Great topic, I think we all have experienced Context Myopia from both sides victim and perpetrator.

    The first entry I have read of yours with nudity in it, and that poor Narcissus guy was too busy looking at himself to notice. Maybe he was just being polite not to look at her until she covered up? 😉

    1. Hey Tech! Agreed. We’ve all suffered the throes of context myopia at one point or another (I’ve got to believe, right?)

      As for nudity, you’ll have to forgive my classical art taste 🙂

      Not even a nip-slip could distract poor Nascissus!

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