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Two on One

I had picked up Daniel Kahnman’s book ‘Thinking Fast and slow’ two years ago. A modest purchase which after a few attempts, I thought would be best adorning my shelf. Sometime back, I ended up at a place with a discussion aimed at the two characters of the book, System 1 and System 2. Here is how Daniel perceives them.

System 1 operates automatically and quickly, with little or no effort and with hardly a sense of voluntary control.
System 2 requires attention and mental effort, a voluntary and subjective experience of agency, choice and concentration.

The beauty of the book lies in the experience it creates. Amazed at how the author has managed to let the readers see through what has been stated in black and white. And that is where the conflict started for me. He has described system 1 as the hero of the book, that is where, he says all the action is. While my system 1 would be elated, the second one wasn’t very pleased with this piece of information.

So ‘it’ made me dig into experiences where it really took over the system 1, even though Kahnman would have wanted it, in such situations to sit back and relax. But what if, it were to be correct. Could there possibly be a misconnection? a different wiring? or just that the wires got entangled and to simplify the matters the brain reworked the circuit?

Kahnman says we can’t control where system 1 gets involved and how but we can exercise these rights with our system 2. And there’s a fair chance we may be over doing it. System 2 gives us the feel that we have a sense of control over things, over our decisions, judgements and we tend to use more and more of system 2 to surround ourselves with the illusion that we have some sort of control over ‘situations’. System 1 is more of a gut approach, a random shot, reflex. So in order to create more of that wonderful experience we tend to scrutinize the activities of our system 1 too much (maybe when we are accused of thinking too much :P ) But system 2 doesn’t like surprises. It’ll reflect on arguably similar sets of experiences, connect hypothetical situations, draw random conclusions and convince us with irrational logic of what’s right and why. Mind you, it even knows what convinces us so it also banks on experience. Poor sys1 doesn’t get that much attention.

System 1 works seamlessly to generate data for system 2, most of the time they work in tandem so that the effort is minimized and output optimized. Its a process to make our lives simpler. But like most relationships of our digital era, this one too has become complicated. Our wish to preside over situation is making us analyze even minor pieces of information or acts and that exactly what is driving us crazy. That is why we often have people reminding us to ‘chill’. This is also killing and infringing the creative space that all of us have.

In past we related humans with limitations, to err was human but with time to err has been to fail. People are often quoted saying “in my field of work there’s a zero chance of error”. Previously a poor person might have been called ‘unfortunate’ but now he is looked down upon as a loser.We have come to believe that whatever we think of, it can be done, achieved or reached. In doing so we have almost enslaved our system1, it acts according to the whims of the other one. The harmony or the efficient division of labour that was programmed has been altered.

When people said some decisions are made by the heart and some by the mind, they indirectly referred these characters of Kahnman but now the game has changed. People are even entering into relationships which seem logical and most wouldn’t find it surprising at all. Cause we may have been wired now :P. That is why we have applications which can predict the health and longevity of relationships, because its mostly reduced to data and logic.

So I feel there is need to hit the internet, to know what are the 7 ,14, or 21 things that we need to do to ensure that we return to our organic state. For my case I am pretty sure whatever it is, it’ll have to go through my system 2, will have to be accessed whether it aligns with my goals and career plans and of course it has to be logical and practical.

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