Curiosity: The Dinosaur in Our Mind
Curiosity: The Dinosaur in Our Mind
When I was a little kid, I liked to build a “house” using chairs and blankets (if you know what I mean) and played with my dolls and toys inside it, just simply because I wanted to know the feeling of staying inside the “house”. I always asked my family the Why-questions and thinking how to dress up my Barbie dolls, which brought me pleasure and happiness. Nonetheless, curiosity also brought me pain. When I was making caramel one day, I wondered what it tastes like. So, I took a little caramel from the cooking turner using my finger. The temperature was too high until I got scalded and a blister formed. Yea, curiosity kills the cat!
Curiosity is a characteristic that emerged during infancy. In the psychology field, it is a state or trait stimulated by one’s interest and used to explore, manipulate, and question in a situation to cope with uncertainties. For instance, if someone is curious about something, they might say, “Omg, this is interesting, I want to know more about it!” rather than “Oh yea, cool beans” or “Another thing I need to force myself to learn about? Oh no…”
The intention to know the “how” and “why” is the root of our curiosity. One time in a lecture, my lecturer told us a story: he asked his lecturer a question about the famous Milgram experiment (an experiment about electric shock and participants’ obedience to authority), “What if the participants heard sex sounds, but not the screaming due to pain, would they get high and increase the electricity instead?” Hmm, probably yes. Everyone loves the feeling of pleasure, isn’t it? And I was like, “Wow, I never thought of this!”. Another example is that, some online creators often create eye-catching titles using ambiguous words to attract the public, which we call “clickbait”. (Don’t tell me you don’t get curious about it and click on it ya!)
Nonetheless, curiosity is like a double-edged sword. On the negative side, eager to know how gambling looks like, how it feels like after taking drugs and doing sex are actually deep inside everyone. In this case, self-control is very important to help us set boundaries between “what I can do” and “what I should do”. For example, “I can gamble, but I should know that it would bring me big problems if I lose all my money”. Therefore, it’s essential to have critical thinking and judgment to make the right decision to leash and unleash the dinosaur of curiosity at the right time.
Interestingly, when life is getting boring and typical, we need some sort of stimulus to make us feel “alive”, and that’s why sensation-seeking takes place. Sensation seeking refers to one’s willingness to take risks in order to satisfy their need for new, uncertain, and/or complex experiences, and avoid boredom. The higher one’s curiosity, the higher one’s sensation-seeking level. Therefore, everyone’s sensation-seeking level is different from one to another. The stimulus that fulfills one’s sensation-seeking includes socially desirable activities such as Bungee jumping, skydiving, trying spicy Korean noodles, or running a marathon; and dangerous or unpleasant activities that would bring us painful outcomes. For example, drug addiction, gambling addiction, improper sex activities, bullying, and self-harming. Based on the National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS) statistics (2017), it is indeed unfortunate to see every one of 10 adolescents was smoking and taking drugs!
As a student, you might wonder why you are losing your curiosity about the subjects. Believe it or not, the schooling system is all about grades. Eventually, the system displaces our passion and curiosity in learning, making us frame our self-identity and self-worth in the “school environment”. However, being curious about the things surrounding us is crucial in this IR 4.0 evolution (IR 5.0 is coming) because it helps us to build and expand our networks. I watched a video before, the man said, “For 35 years, I’ve been meeting a new person in any subject other than entertainment: science, medicine, politics, religion every two weeks. It really has expanded my universe physically and mentally”. He showed me that learning isn’t just about school and books, we can also spend time learning and gain experiences from others’ stories; at the same time we create life opportunities for ourselves, especially during this pandemic.
All in all, it’s important to understand what is good for us and what is aversive. As long as we control the dinosaur appropriately, curiosity offers us more opportunities and possibilities than disadvantages for sure. I know it’s cliche, but we, as the younger generation, are the future of the world, right? So, keep our curiosity alive, and keep exploring the world!