I have gotten stuck on some Social Media debates lately. A big mistake always. Really bad for your general happiness levels.
Long things short, what really drives me crazy is that ignorant people have a strong opinion about something they obviously have no real knowledge, first hand or second-hand, about. Just on impression, people have so strong opinion they are willing to stand by it even against all the logical evidence.
Here is the deal – unless you have a lot of experience and knowledge about something, you really should not have an opinion about it. At all. Let alone a strong opinion. I don’t get to have strong opinions of many things as a result of living by this paradigm. But the ones I have actually make sense for the most part and I feel deservedly firm about them.
It can kinda make me a boring conversationalist sometimes, cause for most things, I just don’t have a strong opinion, usually things that I don’t really care about. Thankfully it helps me avoid tedious and fruitless arguments with people and is a good price to pay for retaining my intellectual integrity.
But thing is, why should you have a strong opinion about something you really don’t know anything about? If you have never been in a fight, you should not act like you know how to do it. If you have never been in a gay relationship, you should not have a strong opinion about it. If you have never had an abortion, or understand completely the reasons and methodologies regarding it, you simply have no right to have an opinion. These are not subjects I have been arguing with people about, cause I really don’t have strong opinions about other people’s business, I just mentioned them cause lot of people do have a strong opinion on them even though they definitelys should not.
This is something that really should be taught in schools, cause it would clear a lot of dumb, loud people out of the social media, I mean man can dream that would be the effect anyway?
Whatever the case may be, the current society is ran exactly the opposite way. Places like social media encourage people to speak up even though they don’t know anything about things. It gives them platform to be widely heard and spread their views that might be completely out of touch with reality. This is not a ran against free speech – this is rant against intellectually rotten mindsets that are simply lazy to thoroughly think through their views.
Another form of encouragement for this “having an opinion despite knowing next to nothing” -phenomenon is democracy. How many of us really have a depth of knowledge about politics? How many of us have a depth of knowledge about how things should be run in our country or world in general? How many understand education, global economics, etc etc so deeply that they should have a right to opinion?
Truth is not many, but the whole idea of democracy is that it expects us ALL to have an opinion about it and all of our opinion counts the same towards the ultimate decisions. This is not an anti-democracy rant as such, it is just pointing out a fact how democracy is flawed at its root level. Hence we end up with political candidates that no one seems to want.
Everyone’s opinion does not count the same. If you haven’t at the bare minimum spent a long long time introspecting a matter from multiple different angles, please just shut up already. Your opinion is not worth shit. Even with just introspection, the validity of what you say is limited. As soon as someone with experience on the matter steps into the conversation, anyone who is not ego-invested should realize that their opinion just became second-class.
Once again we ran into the problem that just because you have some experience, you are automatically right. A small sample of experiences does not make you right. It is so common for people to make sweeping conclusions about things just based on one thing. It is just as invalid as just thinking about a matter.
So what is what we want? I don’t want to aggrandise myself, but obviously I think I behave correctly in this matter. I am not saying I am perfect, I probably have un- or subconsciously strong opinions about things I know jack shit of, or about things I think I know a lot but really actually don’t, but I try my best to follow following guidelines:
- Have a breadth of knowledge on the matter.
- Have at least some real life experience or observation on it so I see how the ideas work in reality.
- Carefully weigh the different sides of the matter in my mind over a long course of introspection.
- Avoid subject matters I do not know anything of.
- If I do venture to have an opinion about thing I am not so familiar with, admit right away my limited knowledge and not aggressively defend my opinion.
- Be ready to let go of your opinion if someone shows in clear terms that you are wrong.
- Learn new stuff.
These are not conscious guidelines that I have had, I just wrote that down first time trying to explain kinda the internal compass I have developed for these things.
There is the old measuring stick about people’s actions that “if everyone did that, then x” that is used mostly in attempt to invalidate some ways of life. I think it is stupid actually, but without digressing from the point I am making, this is one such mindset that if everyone adopted it we would have much less intellectual noise in our lives and more carefully weighed opinions from people who know what they are talking about. To stay true to what I just outlined above, I have to admit I do not know what else would everyone adopting this mindset would cause, but as it would never happen, it does not really matter either. I just think it is an easy way to make your mind a little bit clearer.
In the end though, you are best advised to avoid arguing with people online in the first place – even when you are right, you are gonna have a bad time. In fact, the less regard you have what the people and the society think, the happier you will be in your life.