08/07/2012 05:50 pm ET Updated Oct 07, 2012

Digital Fire: Moving Beyond Common Sense to Complex Sense

Common sense is something we think we all have. We claim to possess common sense with the same self assurance as when stating we are good drivers or citizens engaged in the political process. And yet, car accidents happen every day and uninformed voters wait until the last minute and miss their chance to vote.

In reality, common sense is a difficult thing to gauge, since it's a moving target, based on ever changing cultural expectations. My common sense could very well bump into your belief system. Your belief system may infringe on what a majority of citizens consider to be common sense. Scientific explorations and advances in technology are transforming the way belief systems can be thought about and... even believed.

The world is becoming a more complicated puzzle of thoughts, beliefs, concerns, and viewpoints, all becoming more and more entangled. We are often victims of our patterns of choice, and focused on day-to-day concerns we get wrapped up in the minutia and fail to see the big picture. Should you grab a bag of carrots or a pint of ice cream? We know the healthier alternative, but most often we're not in the mood to choose the healthier alternative. With the speed of the digital world encroaching on more of our thoughts, we might have to invent a complex sense which can apply to everyday decision-making. In fact, there's an app called Drinking Time Machine, a tool for smartphones which shows people how they'll look if they continue to regularly drink too much alcohol.

Our own version of common sense can put us at odds with the society we're born into. Accepting blindly without thinking is one way that many societies behave. They've agreed to this specific reality and it's proven to be a workable system, regardless if an outsider would consider some of their practices nonsensical, wrongheaded, or completely dangerous. No doubt, there were always those who went against the grain, and some of these tribal members or citizens were ostracized, while others were considered visionaries or became heroes.

Social conformity and social change have been butting heads for centuries. It takes a certain type of person to rebel against a society's fundamental tenets, especially if you grow up in a fundamentalist society. These beliefs often revolve around what one can do, can't do, must do, and should never do with one's body. The more universal digital communication and connection becomes, the more these restrictive belief systems fall by the wayside. When ideas concerning freedom and free thought are universal, then enough people will see through these systems lacking in common sense.

Some perspectives on common sense and complex sense are universal. As children, we want to understand how life works, and curiosity rules our minds and feelings. When we're young we look forward to becoming our adult selves, and as adults we long for the days of youth. Technology has made common sense an app you can't live without, and if people could download a more complex sense, many would. Soon, our society may require it.