There’s no shortage of things we can get better at as a society.
Regurgitating opinions online is one of them, so bear with me for not coming up with a completely original post here.
Another is not existing so deeply in an echo chamber of only people that agree with us.
Another still is not being so stubborn with our opinions should we hear good evidence to the contrary.
With all this in mind, this is my take on two statements by others that I heard separately and how they combined into one realisation for me.
The first, which I heard a long time ago and can’t now remember where (although I’ve a feeling it would have been the Tim Ferriss podcast), was to have strong opinions loosely held.
Strong opinions loosely held
It sounds a great alternative to the current trend of people existing in confirmation bias-filled circle jerks; be they in real life or, more commonly, online.
I’m sure you know how this works but in case you don’t, here’s a quick outline.
You don’t like Newspaper A but your friend is always posting links to their articles on Facebook. So you hide all posts that contain links to Newspaper A.
This keeps your feed free from the newspaper’s agenda while your friend’s baby pictures and their poolside hot dog legs will still show up.
And good for you for doing it, tbh.
I’ve done the same. I don’t want to have Newspaper A inflicted on me either.
Frankly, Newspaper A are the scum of the Earth.
The problem is every time we hide posts from publications we fundamentally disagree with, our Facebook walls become more and more echoey, until eventually becoming actual echo chambers full of opinions that only match our own (and baby pictures and hot dog legs).
Our beliefs get reinforced, we’re never challenged to think about them critically, and so we continue on our way knowing that we’re in the right and they are in the wrong.
And they do the exact same thing, building their own echo chambers full of stuff you’d wholeheartedly disagree with and blocking things you’d probably agree with.
Lots of us have strong opinions, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s good to have them.
The issue comes with holding too strongly onto them.
Nobody likes to admit they might have been wrong. Nobody wants to admit they might have been hoodwinked.
Even worse, changing your mind on an issue is often seen as a bad thing.
Do you not know your own mind? Are you really that indecisive?
And yet changing our opinions in the face of new evidence is one of the ways we can all move forward.
Hence, strong opinions loosely held.
I’m as guilty as anyone. Even though I’m writing this, I’m not going to unhide posts from the Newspaper A. I’d rather keep my Facebook wall a place I enjoy being.
But I’m happy to hear opinions different to mine elsewhere. The difference is that I actively choose to do it, instead of having it obtrusively pushed into my day.
One place I do this is the Joe Rogan podcast.
I like how he welcomes guests from all over the political spectrum, hears what they have to say, and pretty much always forms a fair, unbiased opinion based on the information at hand.
I sometimes find myself disagreeing completely with the viewpoint a guest may have.
But I still listen. Whether you agree or disagree, it’s good to still listen.
Turning it off means staying in your echo chamber.
Listening doesn’t mean you have to change your mind, although it gives you the opportunity to do so.
And if your opinion doesn’t change, there’s a good chance you’re going to have a better understanding of it than you did before.
Don’t only consume media you already know you’re going to agree with, and don’t turn off media if it starts to go against what you believe.
Give it a chance. A chance to either change your opinion or to reinforce it for now.
Strong opinions loosely held.
The death of the fear of success
I wrote a post before on the fear of success.
It was a post I was quite proud of, having broken down why my experience demonstrated to me how success was, in some cases, scarier than failure.
What if my writing business takes off? How will I handle all these clients?
What if my photography is well-received? How will I make sure my future work lives up to it?
What if those songs you’re working on blow up? Are you good enough to play shows in front of people?
Success is scary because it leads to change. Failure is safe because we can stay in our cave.
And then Aubrey Marcus came out with the following on his podcast, which I’ll paraphrase and butcher as I’m not going back to find the exact quote:
There is no fear of success. There’s just a fear of an even bigger failure further down the line.
I’m not sure how I’d missed such an obvious issue with something I’d spent time writing about.
All I knew was the opinion I’d expressed in that blog post had been turned completely on its head.
Which, by the way, is brilliant.
I heard a different opinion on something I truly believed in, and it changed my mind. And it took no time at all. As quickly as the words were processed my opinion had changed.
Who knows. Maybe in the future, someone else will change it back.
I’d be fine with that too.
But right now, the situation is this:
I strongly held the opinion that success was, in some cases, scarier than failure. Now, based on one sentence I heard on one podcast episode once, I believe the opposite.
And I don’t mind telling you that.
Of course, there’s a difference between philosophical opinions such as this and beliefs about how the world should work.
Which is why Facebook posts featuring a link to Newspaper A will remain hidden.
Seeing them won’t change my mind on the agenda they push and there is zero value in seeing what they have to say when I need to stay productive through the day.
There is a balance to be had between creating an echo chamber and not letting in unnecessary negativity.
Just try not to be stubborn for the sake of it; especially with things that don’t really matter.
Changing an opinion is personal progress, not weakness. Admitting it is a sign of strength because you’re above what people might think of you for doing so.
My strong belief in the fear of success evaporated in a matter of seconds.
Don’t be afraid to let some of yours do the same should you need to.
Strong opinions loosely held.
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