A silver lining to tumultuous times is the prevalence of opinions. Discord has a way of bringing out the voices of even the meek, and if you sift through the chaff you can uncover some remarkable insights that can cause you to challenge your own world view.
Because there are so few firm “rights” and “wrongs” in the world of opinion, it’s important to remain flexible in your own thought patterns. But, it’s also important to thoroughly examine an opinion or information you’re presented with, especially before reacting. Automatic agreement or rejection is detrimental to yourself and to those you’re talking with.
The next time you’re met with information that causes an immediate reaction, positive or negative, ask the following:
- What is the author’s angle? This is especially notable in documentaries, where the goal is to highlight one side of a story. But this is also true in more informal social media posts and comments. Seek alternate viewpoints and commentaries to provide yourself with more complete context of the situation.
- What is my initial reaction? Why am I reacting this way? Does this information challenge an assumption I have? Does it reinforce an assumption I have?
- How can I back up my reaction? What information is available that supports your thinking? Where are there information gaps?
- What information would I need to change my mind about this? This question can spiral you into an amazing and rich terrain of learning as you continue to challenge your own thoughts and dig deeper into splitting threads.
Often, the hardest pieces to challenge and examine are the ones that reinforce the beliefs you already hold. Our tendency is to want to be right, and to want to convince others that we are right. But especially in a situation where there is no “right”, truly the most important goal is to continue learning. Curiosity may have killed the cat, but it’s the one thing that may save humankind.