I have held back for the last couple weeks on speaking out on this topic, because opinions by nature are polarizing. And I was not sure if I could handle opinion backlash during the lockdown. I wasn’t sure if I could handle people when I had other issues to deal with, so I told myself: Nobody needs me to be yet another person that is having opinion on other peoples opinions.
But a few weeks have passed by and I keep coming back to it. I keep seeing other people be annoyed, confused and struggeling on which opinions to let get to you and which not to. And if that is you my friend, stay on because that is something do believe I can help you with.
How do you handle
Under normal circumstances it is already exhausting to filter through all the noise of media, news, fiends, family, community and your own monkey brain constantly chattering. During a pandemic its even harder.
So what is your go-to response? Overwhelm? Or annoyance?
I am annoyed.
For the longest time I wished I could just be cool and let it slide when I heared or saw people having weird ass opinions, but … I kept catching myself rolling my eyes when yet another person blasted out, what seemed to me to be an unfiltered and unreflected opinion.
And why was that? Because I myself can be one such person that always has a strong tendency to talk before she thinks letting her emotions spiral her up or down.
I actually used to wear it like a badge of honor. I used tell myself: I am extroverted, I wear my heart on my sleeve, I love me a bit of passionate verbal match-down, if we can agree to stay civil and what’s the harm anyways?
But lately I am tired of it. I am weary. I just can’t stand one more bla,bla talk with no substance behind it. So I have decided for myself: If I can’t honestly say - I believe I know what I am talking about - I won’t talk about it. But how goes the saying? Talking is silver, silence is gold and cutting the BS is flippin platinum.
And if I am still talking here to you about opinion culture, it’s because just as any recovering opinion addict, I can tell you what I did in order to arrive and enjoy opinion soberness.
Why are we so
all over the place?
So, how come? Why are we so into shamelessly opinionating all over the place? Why are some of us sooo pressured to let their entire world know what THEY feel about a certain topic?
Are we just wired like that? yes, sure, to some extend. It’s simply in some peoples nature to react and blast out whatever comes into their mind. And, as I said, when I look in the mirror I see someone like that.
But if you are aware of yourself doing this, you probably also catch yourself blame-shaming yourself for having given into it.
But today I am here to tell you: Don’t. Don’t do it. Don’t blame-shame yourself, because it’s not entirely your fault that you are doing it. - only if you continue doing it after today.
It is not your fault, because our society has taught you: you should have an opinion and should stand by it. And if you don’t, you are meek.
That’s why we call it opinion culture.
We were taught 'opinionating' is
a good thing.
Think about it: from when we were little we were told to grow up, show a bit of maturity and be rational. All the big people around you put such an emphasis on you learning how to read, write, research, form an opinion and then … make a case for it. Defend your opinion.
And with internet and unlimited information at our disposal it has become so easy to have an opinion. Having an opinion, or should I say, having the ability to form an opinion has become the synonym for ‘being educated’. And isn’t ‘having an education’ the biggest badge of honor in our society?
And I agree to some degree: we need to have opinions and defend them if necessary but only if you can - honest to god say - I believe to have enough information to form an opinion based on intellectual substance.
But here is the thing with the whole Corona and CoVid and lockdown and coming out of lockdown situation and opinion culture. We have a whole lot more of opinions and assumptions circulating than actual info and knowledge. And not only are the Rona and CoVid scary, but know that not even the brightest minds in the world know what the heck to do with it…. that’s a whole other dimension of scary. So how are you and me supposed to form an opinion and stand by it? How are we supposed to be adulting when all our tools to adulting are failing us?
Most corona related opinions out there right now are pure speculation.
So why do people still do it? Because it makes them feel better and we were told that if you are intelligent and rational and a serious adult you do your research and you form an opinion and you stand by it. It’s always more comforting to be actively doing something than… not to.
We cling to opinion forming because otherwise we feel like the helpless children we once were. BUt by holding on to what we think makes us look & sound mature ad wise, we end up looking like - I was going to say fools - but in fact we look even more like kids that put on mommies and daddy’s clothes to play grown-up.
Friend, that's weird!
The mature thing
to do is:
So why don’t we just leave it be? The actual best sign of maturity is being able to acknowledge that: <<I don’t know.>>
It is uncomfortable to not know and it is even more uncomfortable to say it out loud when someone else slaps you yet another article in front of your face, telling you to read it, form an opinion and discuss it.
See what happens if you refuse. People look at you in consternation and disbelief and they will push you saying something like:
"Well, then here you go, read it. This is important. Don’t you want to know? We need to be informed. We need to care. Don’t you care?"
What I do now is this: I say this with love, but also with a very affirmed voice:
"It pains me to say, but I don’t know. I don’t know and I can’t help you relieve that tension you are feeling from not knowing.
Nah friends, I am out. I won’t do it. Not because I don’t care. Not because I have not learned how to. I am out because I decided I want to stay within my own integrity of becoming better at adulting.
Each and every article or expert opinion on the topic sounds logic, but I have not enough info or knowledge to verify the substance of this information. So I can read it, but I can’t and won’t give you an opinion on it, because I feel not qualified to classify this. All I would do is feed uncertainty within me. So I choose to not vent outraged, frustrated or anxious in public. And yes, I feel good about this decision because I have checked back with what I do know and how I do know to be within my integrity."
check back with yourself.
And I’m inviting you to do the same. There are 3 levels of knowing within each and everyone of us and you can make it a habit to check back against all three of them. If you come to the conclusion that you have something to contribute that helps - share it. And if you can’t, be OK with not having anything to say and leaving the stage gracefully for others who can. So what are those levels?
1. Knowledge: It’s the facts of life. Based on the explorations others did before us, we learn what they learned and proved to be true. It’s the theory. It’s the science and the logic and the history of humankind.
Do you know more, or do you know deeper on the subject than others do? Do you fully understand what someone else who does know more or deeper is saying? Could help provide proof or could challenge them so they find better proof or realize in time that their knowledge has a flaw?
If so, please add more substance.
2. Skill: is the knowing and practice of doing. It’s the physical ability and the memory within your body and muscles. It’s what you can do to build what is good or destroy what is bad.
Can you do more or different? Can you see and fully understand what it takes to do more, or different or better because you are in the active habit of doing this or something very similar? If it would come to it: would your body know how to move itself or handle the thing or do the gesture without you even really having to think about it?
3. Wisdom: Ohhhh wisdom. The queen of knowing. Wisdom comes when you have learned the theory and gained the ability from practice and have tested both of them. Wisdom is rooted in your very own experience. Wisdom is the clarity you gain after having had the opportunity of having dealt with something using knowledge and skill. This is also where your intuition lies. It is your whole being recognizing a familiar pattern and giving you that distinct feeling that this is indeed wrong or right.
When you see, listen and feel back into your own experience, what is the history of you, what you learned to understand, what you learned to do, what you learned to love and what you learned to reject, what you learned about other people's learning, doing, loving and rejecting and who it affects the individual as well as the relationships between individuals or group dynamics…. Do you know more or deeper and can you contribute in a helpful manner?
If so, do it: be helpful.
If not, withstand the urge to blurt out in anger, frustration, panic or worry. And if you feel you need someone else’s opinion, check back if their information is helpful or just their outlet of spreading anger, frustration, panic or worry.
to sum it up
This means for me:
So when it comes to CoVid, social distancing, lockdowns and coming out of lockdowns I know that I don’t know much on the Theorie side of things.
I am a designer, not a researcher in any of the natural sciences, not an economist, not a historian or politician. My knowledge is not adding quality to this discussion, because I would only be sharing feelings.
MY design skills are for the individual, not the masses. I can help you create more ease, quietness, serenity, or fun and exciting for you - but not on the national or continental level.
And speaking about wisdom: is anybody wise when it comes to CoVid? One thing the entire world agrees upon is that no one has been through something like this before.
So my wisdom tells me this: high pressure and high tension situations do not need more excitement, they need a cleared room that give calm minds the space to focus on what they do best. I will turn my back to the scene, face my fellow not-knowers and try to secure the parameter and clear the corridor for the emergency vehicle to access and do their work.
What is your take on this?