Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Ambiguous Decisions

Originally posted on January 30, 2010

Sometimes I’m rather unsure as to which position to take. There are good arguments on both sides of so many things.  (Indeed, on my webpage on ethics I list over 30 current policy issues that I haven’t come to any conclusion.)

Someone suggested I join some of the social media, such as Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and the like. I was intrigued because it is clear that there is stuff happening out there on the cutting edge. I don’t doubt that some of it is good for some people, and some of it might be good for most people, but there is also the possibility that some of it is extensively time-consuming and energy-draining with a low yield of actual relevance. This is my wariness about a variety of types of social media.

I’m a bit more conservative of my time because I’ve reached a point in my life where I question whether I’ll be able to achieve or accomplish my “bucket list” of high-priority items that I feel called to pursue. I have a number of books and papers and ideas that I want to write and publish, other ideas to ponder, work through, clarify, revise, and this is what I’ve realized is my dharma or duty. I used to be more adventurous, probing into things that were perhaps more peripheral, but I feel less inclined to be distracted this way.

What intrigues me is that I know I shouldn’t dismiss one of the variety of options. It’s like other things at the frontiers of a developing field, such as, for example, alternative healing. There are at least a thousand remedies—many panaceas, all-purpose—or at least claiming to do many things—that have been developed in the last 20 years. I would even be willing to concede that perhaps as many as 50 were valid, and if they were valid, at least 30 would revolutionize our paradigms of what certain disease processes and perhaps even healing and life itself is about.  I welcome these revolutions.

However, we are still in the time when it is entirely unclear which of the thousand are one of these truly effective remedies, and which ones are like the thousands of remedies that have been proposed in medicine and other fields over the last centuries. A few were frauds and the proponent knew it; many were simplistic approaches or complicated ones propounded in great sincerity by innovators who weren’t so great on the key scientific question, “but is it so?”  All of these are competing for the status of “yes, it has been adequately proven,” but few have really stepped up to the plate of submitting a theory or method or medicine to rigorous testing.

The same evolutionary and selection process, a process of discernment, needs to be applied to the competing claims of so many methods of psychotherapy, as well as the current flush of  new types of social media.
In terms of the analytical psychology of Carl G. Jung, speaking archetypally, what is being played out is the complex of “puer” (Latin = boy) full of enthusiasm but not always cautious playing off the “senex” complex of the cautious old person. It should be noted, though, that these are ideal principles, and that in fact young people can also express this sense of  “whoa, wait a minute, just because it’s new doesn’t mean it’s good”, and elders can be caught up in at times careless enthuisasm of the puer.

Indeed, I think a dynamic balance between these two tendencies must be re-enacted in an ongoing way as part of active living. So not-knowing is a good cooking-pot of thought.

One Response to “Ambiguous Decisions”

  • Cheryl says:

    I love Facebook and I think it succeeds as a social network. I don’t find it any more conducive to a business or a group than other services already available on the net but as a social connector, it has been wonderful for me.

    You make a good point about discernment – oh to be an ant among the sugar and the sand, then I would only taste what was sweet.


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