Misconception Monday – Awareness

Not only a new post – the first in a month – but a Misconception Monday! Excuses abound, but I’ll spare you those.

Back in the olden days before indoor plumbing and antibiotics, “awareness” wasn’t a virtue. It became a virtue in all but name during the information age. And why should we expect things to have gone any differently? We must be made aware of information, and information is king. Or so we are told.

I’m not convinced that awareness in the modern sense is of much benefit. We talk of breast cancer awareness (we even have a month dedicated to it). Is there any literate person in the Western world who does not know about breast cancer? I know very few who know that the highest cause of death for women is heart disease.

But this trades on the difference between knowledge and awareness. The former is the sum total of what information and experience we have with a particular thing, while the latter is our conscience thinking of (and often cautiously watching for) it.

We could know about the army our enemy’s have in the field, but we want to be aware of it. On the other hand, we are often aware that we are thirsty or hungry and would prefer to know that we are not after addressing the problem.

These are old fashioned ways of looking at both terms. In our enlightened era, awareness is a virtue. The more we are aware of, the better, right? Isn’t that part of the reason people voluntarily bombard themselves every waking moment with 160-character strings of text?

We’re probably best avoiding all of the “awareness” nonsense. We should avoid being aware of particular facts as we are manipulated into hearing them.