Context matters

Not only are others blind to the larger context but we are often blind to their context. Only by zooming out and looking at the situations through the eyes of multiple people, can you begin to acquire perspective. And perspective is the key to removing blind-spots.


For example: Knowing who wrote something provides useful context. In this case, the piece has no attribution—which is silly since it’s a useful, concise summary.

One way in which everyone—I can think of exactly one person, whom I’ve personally spoken with, who is the exception to that “everyone”—leaves out important context is by not being clear where ideas have come from. Everyone speaks as if each idea is patently obvious; “the sky is blue,” doesn’t need context when humans on Earth are speaking. But when you start to pay attention, almost everything else does need context. Where in fact did I hear this idea? Why am I repeating it here, in this conversation? Does my personal experience and opinion, agree or disagree with this idea?

A few years ago, I started demarcating ideas with, “I think…,” when it’s an original composition of thought, and “it seems obvious that…,” when that is the case. (And I only spout the third sort of idea—the ones I got from others—when I can recall or track down where I got it.) This forces me to sort my ideas by their contexts. Certain, uncertain, likely, unlikely, etc.. The first thing that happened was I started spouting off random crap far less often. The second thing that happened was that I found, (and have subsequently made a habit of looking into,) a lot of ideas in my head that were of dubious veracity.