Part of what makes your mind brilliant is its ability to know what to ignore–what doesn’t matter.
However, you’re going to be wrong quite often. Thankfully, most of the time it doesn’t matter.
For example, you might trip while walking down a busy New York street and mistakenly think that at least a dozen people saw you trip and are laughing at you, or think you’re a fool. Chances are nobody saw you. Maybe you turn around and gawk at the size of the crack in the sidewalk and release a sigh as you shun the inability of the mayor to get anything done in this blasted city… however, chances are you’re the only one in attendance at your one man show.
Sometimes ignoring the wrong thing is problematic. And if you want to catch this mistake then you have to be aware of its possibility. And for that let’s look at some examples.
One of the most prevalent ways you’ll fall into the trap of myopia is with any emotional subject.
For example, in the 2018 Super Bowl ads Stella Artois ran a spot about buying a five dollar challice that would result in someone in a developing country getting water for five years. What comes to mind when you hear this?
Here are a few examples of myopia in response:
Here’s the ad and a first response to consider:
Why does my city water cost 30 bucks a month when the price of a beer mug will buy 5 yrs worth?
— John Zavinski (@JohnZavinski) January 30, 2018
Myopia is often a lack of imagination, for example not thinking about infrastructure and loans.
Myopia is also often the consequence of a lack of expertise. If you’re not skilled in providing water to people in developing countries this all might seem counter-intuitive.
This is easy to combat, be skeptical of your own imagination and expertise and google with that skepticism in mind.
Stella briefly followed up with an explanation. Then, someone asked another question.
How can someone too poor to have access to water repay an "affordable loan"?
— Stu Kelley (@stukelley) February 2, 2018
Perhaps a fair question. This might even be skepticism at work. Without knowing the author’s intent it is hard to know what they’re really asking.
The real issue seems to be cash flow and the ability to save, not the ability to pay. Water.org reports that 99% of people pay back their loan which is impressive.
There are a myriad of possibilities for why people can’t save: no access to banking, inability to protect savings, compulsive spending, etc. A loan gives them the cash flow to fix the infrastructure to grant access to water.
And it sounds like some people were spending more on bottled water than water delivered via new infrastructure. So, the loan not only affords water it frees up more disposable income. Both to repay the loan. And, likely to pay a small amount of interest which in turn with the loan repayment then goes to provide the same charity to someone else in a similar situation. Thus compounding the initial investment! And in a way the interest becomes a donation, if it exists, I haven’t checked. I bet some people feel good about repaying that interest.
Now, if you think about this for a minute I’m sure you can find someone in your life that pays more for a service because they can’t afford a premium service that costs less. For example, people use payday loan services which take an exorbitant amount of their paycheck to provide an advance. Buying bottled water really is the same thing, it’s paying more for a seemingly inefficient service for the consumer and yet it is valuable if you don’t have any other way to get water or the money you need to pay the bills.
Yet another person asks:
“Wouldn’t it be more efficient if Stella Artois just gave a few million to Water.org instead of buying a Super Bowl ad?”
What does your myopia detector tell you about this one?
How about, consider Stella was going to run an ad and they decided to donate it mostly to water.org while also promoting their brand?
Also, if Stella doesn’t advertise effectively, they’ll go out of business and we’ll lose a company that is donating money to a good cause. As well as connoisseurs losing a favorite beverage.
Watch out for myopia in your own life, and remember it tends to be most problematic when it’s concomitant with strong emotions.