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The idea that because we know how something works, it won’t work on us, is a common incorrect belief.

  • as an aside, that belief supports many businesses that provide info, training and education in areas such as wellness and health, media literacy, diversity and inclusion, critical thinking …

What protects us from responding ‘as usual’ is not understanding, but rather structures that we (as individuals and as societies) can set up, that force a pause and reflection, or reduce the ease of access of certain options, or limit that access strictly.

(And they have to be more effective structures than ‘are you sure you want to delete this file?’ prompts.)

Of course, we don’t set up those structures until we live the damages. Speeding tickets and seat belts were created long after cars.

As a practicing psychotherapist, I see this all the time. People want to believe that knowledge is power, and strongly resist implementing structures that would actually give them that power - a power they say they choose and want! For example, many people want to go to sleep earlier and sleep better. Almost no one will set up their devices so that only emergency access is available after 9 pm. They’d rather keep hitting their heads on the brick wall of ‘I should be able to do this without that structure!’ This is such a consistent and persistent reaction that I can only assume that not only have their immediate choices been co-opted by the ‘irresistible attractant’, but also their medium and longer-term ones.

It’s going to be an interesting time.

Don't forget that bureaucracy also exists as an effort to make gov't and other organizations more predictable, and often more egalitarian. Decisions such as whether you are allowed to build a huge house on your tiny lot are made through rules, rather than personal power and individual preference. So my neighbour, who has a lot of money and who is the grandchild of a former governor, has to apply to the same office, request the same permits, provide the same documentation, and pay the same fees, to (at least theoretically) get the same answer as I would, the upstart nouveau-not-that-riche. And the bureaucrat who 'decides' on my permit has to follow the same decision tree as the different bureaucrat who decides on my neighbour's.

This kind of predictability can only occur through a bureaucratic system. Anyone who has lived in a country where personal power, class, cronyism, caprice and corruption make the decisions instead, will appreciate bureaucracy, despite how annoying and frustrating it can be.