An Ode to Questioning Biases

I have been increasingly questioning my biases lately.

Social Media Bias

How my opinions are largely formed by what the media is showing me. Sometimes, never bothering to look at the “other side.” A kind of blind faith that the news portals will show me only the truth and nothing but the absolute truth.

This belief was shaken up quite a bit when I understood that a lot of times, the media chooses to pick a side and highlight only that part of the story. We never get to know why “the other side” acted the way they did, said the things they did. It is well hidden. We never get to know the full picture. There are times I have made that extra effort to know more.. and have been amazed at how well the media hides bits and pieces of relevant information. The kind of information that wouldn’t have agitated the people so much if it were to be revealed alongside the flustering headline (or at least at the top of the news article). Add to that the social media’s personal opinions, which again, most often than not, do not give the complete picture.

With all this excessive one-sided information, a person who used to feel concerned about the issue in a healthy way before is left extremely agitated, angry and restless in a matter of minutes. The issue won’t leave your head. It stays with you when you sleep, it is the first thing you think of when you wake up. You snap at the drop of a hat, refusing to see any other angles. This keeps happening each time a new issue pops up. Imagine the stress your body has to go through, taking the world’s collective burden on your shoulders. In short, it just messes up your mental health.

I have had to log out of my social media accounts multiple times in the last one year just to calm myself down and to dissociate from all the noise. During such moments I often think, is social media a boon or a bane?

Information Bias

A large number of social media influencers (the ones who review movies) are largely influenced by critics and the media. If the critics say it is a good movie, they will say it is a good movie. If the critics thrash a movie, they will say it is the worst movie of the decade. I was so caught up in this information bias, that I was afraid of saying that I liked a movie that the majority hated. I was also afraid of saying I did not enjoy a movie that the majority liked. Because then, the movie shaming begins. Your taste in movies is questioned.

It is the case with almost anything, not just movies. If the general review of a product is positive or negative, you are expected to have the exact same view. Herd mentality in such cases is encouraged. If you step out of the box, you are questioned.

That was until I got out of that zone and said to myself “You know, I laughed watching this movie. It is funny. It worked for me. Why should I ashamed of something that kept me entertained throughout?” I started being open about liking the movies I really liked (even if they weren’t critically acclaimed) and not liking the movies that I truly did not (even if they were liked by the majority). I was being true to myself and that felt good.

I realized there were more people like me out there, shying away from voicing their true likes/dislikes, when I started getting messages (in private) that they liked/hated the same thing too.

Halo Effect

When you admire a person (it could also be a celebrity, politician or government), you tend to believe that everything the person does is justified – whether good or evil. We refuse to believe they are human after all – prone to mistakes. We forgive and forget. This is a bias I am trying to overcome as well. Trying consciously to notice and acknowledge those errors even if I like the entity very much. To hold them accountable if feelings were hurt, and not to give them the status of a superior being who is incapable of mistakes.

I have been reading up on biases and media bias is something that struck me the most. When you seek more information about something, weirdly enough, you start noticing these little things that you used to ignore before. You become aware of the biases that are now part and parcel of your daily life.

It is a scary thought to reflect on, that you can be manipulated into believing something that is constantly thrown in your face, as if there is no other truth.

An Ode to Cryptocurrency

Photo by Worldspectrum on Pexels.com

I have been staring at crypto news all week.

I have not yet invested in this “asset.” I would prefer calling it an “asset” over “currency” because in India it is not yet a legal tender.

My interest piqued when I heard of India’s involvement in Polygon/Matic. It was all over the news. A person who has not yet invested in crypto (i.e. yours truly) ended up watching a dozen new videos and reading comprehensive news articles on Matic (hello, patriotism), wondering dreamily when she will ever be able to invest in it confidently, without fearing the consequences of strict protocols that the government may or may not enforce later on. I even consumed with much interest a YouTube video on whether Matic would survive after Ethereum 2.0. All this makes zero sense to me as I am a new believer, but my curiosity seems to have taken over, wanting to know the future. All the answers I got were in the positive (for Matic). It has now become a forbidden fruit of sorts.

This is a big shift from how I was a few months back – an overconfident cynic who was pretty damn sure she would never buy crypto. “Too volatile, no regulations, weird names” My reasons were plenty. People change, so did I. Realizing the ever-growing power of virtual currency world over, it would surely be a step back, if India were to ban it completely.

I was proud that India got into the world of crypto (that too successfully), and also felt a bit dejected when the promoters of Matic said they couldn’t promote or advertise it in a way they would like to, because of India’s current stance on virtual currencies. Hopefully with crypto exchanges like WazirX fighting for #IndiaWantsCrypto, the officials will take notice, and newbies like me can also venture into a zone that has gained immense popularity worldwide. Call it FOMO or whatever you wish, but no one can negate the solid growth crypto is experiencing.

I still have to wait though, for the Indian government to make its stand clear. And this the story of many in India. Why?

Because, for a safe investor like me, playing by the government’s rulebook is of absolute importance. India does have a lot of crypto investors, who are fully aware of the risk factors that come with possessing an unregulated asset, but they continue to do so as they are ready to take that risk. Buying and selling crypto in India is not illegal, but the government sending across mixed signals makes it a bit tough for many like me to jump into the bandwagon with surety.

Hopefully, soon enough, we will get to know. Hopefully, by then, crypto would have not lost its charm.