Is Ignorance Bliss?

Katie just informed me that she watched a documentary on 9/11, which made me think. I often hear people talk about shows they watched that hold no interest for me. I'm not sure exactly why that is, but I feel there isn't much to be gained from certain subjects. They may hold some perspective as to the triumph of the human spirit, but I feel like the negatives outweigh the positives. Here are a few things I don't really want to get into detail about.

The Holocaust
Climate change
Crimes against children
True crime in general
The dangers of [x common thing in your life that will kill you]

When it comes to man's inhumanity to man, I feel like I get it. I know people can be horrible; I don't need to know all the details about specific Nazi war crimes to understand the depths to which people can sink. I feel like maybe this leaves me ignorant, but I don't know. If I see a headline about another Catholic priest involved in a child abuse scandal I don't think I need to know anything about the specifics. I know it's horrifying, and that seems like enough.

Curiously, as one example Katie won't watch The Dark Knight with me, which is fictional, but she thinks it's "evil." And it is pretty intense, but for me the triumph of the human spirit is worth the slog through the rough stuff. There's a distinct difference in my mind between this and some real events that are hard to watch. Maybe because I don't necessarily know how it will end. But there are also plenty of bad fictional things I'm not interested in either.

So is there something wrong with not wanting to know every detail about some of the horrible things that happen in the world? Again, I am aware of the things that happen; I see the headlines. I just want limited information.

5 comments:

Lori said...

I agree. I don't need to know the details. I have a good enough imagination for sure. I've never seen Titanic. Don't want to see all those people lose their lives.

)en said...

I went to a book club once where I was involved in a discussion with a friend who wished all history could be taught in schools through historical fiction and it was interesting bc as she said it something inside of me died a little bit, like millions of silenced voices. She meant nothing but good and emphasized that she just couldn't handle these tragic stories where horrifying things took place. I understood that and do still but I expressed the totally opposite opinion, which made it a very interesting conversation. I struggle with historical fiction especially when it comes to particular historical events that I am partial to because it feels almost disoresoectful for the more than sufficient amount of stories- true stories- that could be told. Like why make up this horrible thing when true horrors occurred? Now, the news these days is intense and heavy and I am one to totally shy away from it. I don't feel that we all need to be exposed to everything but I am concerned with forgetting that which should not be forgotten. I gotta a lot of thoughts on the matter. 😀👍🏼

Joel said...

You're right. And I hope I don't come across as wanting to remain ignorant. I just don't want to hear about all the gruesome details of how the Nazis tortured people. I feel like we should learn a certain amount until we get the picture. For example, perhaps ten years ago I was going on a fishing trip with my dad and uncle, and my uncle shared a deeply disturbing incident involving killing a baby. I still can't forget it. I don't feel like it did me any good to hear it, unless it's to develop a determination that such things should never again be allowed to happen. But even so I feel too much can be unhealthy.

)en said...

Ugh, that sounds awful. No, I'm with you. I don't disagree either, I just was reminded of a recent and somewhat related experience. The gruesome details just for the sake of gruesomeness benefits no one. It's hard to know where to draw the line, too.

)en said...

Also I transcribed a bunch of interviews a person conducted with the NYPD and FD and I'm kind of like, I'm done now. No more 9/11 for me.