When the Loudest Voice ≠ the Wisest Voice
The woman Folly is loud; she is seductive and knows nothing. (Proverbs 9:13)
Some marketers estimate that the average person sees up to 5,000 advertisements per day! Social media posts, billboards, radio commercials, spam emails, and so on come in a constant barrage. While some ads are helpful, others are just distracting, and still others are damaging. The flurry of information around us is often “loud and seductive” but not wise.
The cognitive psychologist Daniel Kahneman has spent a lifetime researching how human beings are inclined to make quick, intuitive decisions, often influenced more by subtle cues around them than by careful reasoning. Each person has limited energy for critical thinking, and is therefore influenced by all kinds of environmental factors. Kahneman explains:
There is a whole line of studies that show what happens when people are exposed to the idea of money. For example, people are asked to perform a task and nearby there is a computer with a screensaver with dollar bills floating in water. It has been shown by psychologists that [just the cue of seeing money] makes you selfish – it makes you reluctant to ask for the help of others; it makes you put your chair further from other people when you have to set up an interview situation.
It has effects on all sorts of behaviors that people are completely unaware of. … Now if you’re designing an organization, you can create an environment where people are thinking about money all the time or where they’re thinking about other things. And that will control their behavior to some extent.
From a biblical perspective, there are a few things we can do to be less swayed by the constant images and ideas bombarding us. First, we can think through our decisions ahead of time; if I find myself facing a co-worker’s question or a friend’s disappointment, how will I respond? Second, we can minimize how much time we spend in environments – or on devices – that are likely to overload our senses and discourage godly living.
And third, we need to invest time in environments that help us stay on the path of wisdom. Even Jesus needed retreats, withdrawing to isolated places where he prayed all evening (cf. Luke 5:16). A truly wise life requires reflection on God’s Word, periods of prayer, and often living differently from the world around us.
So today, ask yourself whether the loudest, most confident voices are actually the wisest. Step away from the rush of life a few times today and pray for a few minutes. And remember that true wisdom is found in a life of steady devotion to the Lord, and not in the loud follies of this world.
Father, protect me from the loud, seductive messages all around me. Help me to think clearly and act wisely. By your Spirit, make me discerning today as I seek to follow You. In Christ’s Name, Amen.