In this digital age we have many choices from social media, to e-mail and mailing list, and even blogs, to write our thoughts. But the thing I often hear from people is they have fear of sharing their thoughts because people won’t like what they have to say.
Now I know that some platforms are censoring what people are posting, and yet others are losing their jobs or are publicly humiliated for what they share online. However, the important thing for me was to find the platform that allows me to share what I need to, and not worry about what other people think who read it, and dump the others.
The reason for sharing your thoughts is that it not only helps to form our own opinions, but that we all have a right to our own opinion even if we don’t have a right to our own facts. It doesn’t matter if others are reading what you are saying, because you need to do this for yourself first.
The title of the picture for this blog post is ‘Conversations at the Preserve’ because along the path of life what is important is to spend time thinking and talking, even if it is only with yourself. I have been (and you will be) surprised that when people in the real world ask for opinions how much (you and) I will have it, and speak it, well thought out already.
I agree. I’ve noticed that in recent years, there seems to be extreme “group-think” and polarisation, and people only care about being “right”. I think it is a symptom of the recent “echo-chamber” nature of lots of social media, which didn’t seem to be so prolific during the days of discussion-fora and bulletin-boards.
There seems to be an inability in most people nowadays to see subtle nuances or view a matter as anything other than “black-and-white”. There is either “my view” or the “wrong view”.
As an example, apparently Donald Trump recently remarked at an event “…in fact, I’m probably the least-racist person in this room”. People who both love and hate Trump probably both know that’s not going to be strictly, 100%-true. If you pick a random person in a crowded room, the odds are there will be 1 person somewhere in there who’s somehow less racist. The following day, I overheard a commentator or comedian discussing it on the radio, and he made the remark, “Only Trump would say he’s the least-racist person in the room… to a person who’s half native-American, half-black!” The subtext of his analysis was essentially that having dark-coloured skin somehow makes it impossible for an individual to be racist.
I simply made a passing-remark that this was a logical fallacy, to the work-colleague who was listening to the show (you can be any colour and be a racist – in fact, the two most extreme-racist people I have ever met in my life were both British-Asians) – and a flawed statement like that effectively would undermine the credibility of any argument he had against Trump. I could see the blood boiling and steam coming out of my colleague’s ears. He hadn’t heard what I’d said, only that I’d dared question the doctrine being presented: “How on Earth could you be a bigoted Trump supporter?” (I’m not) “…and defend that vile excuse for a man!” (I wasn’t). The fact that I’d dared point out anything wrong with the logic behind an opinion instantly made me, in my colleague’s eyes, an evil Trump-supporting bogeyman. I didn’t blindly agree with every aspect of the party-line, therefore I must have been “one of them”.
I don’t live in America so I don’t know enough about Trump to express an opinion. All I can say is that I only see what reaches our media and I don’t like what I see – but I’m aware it’s not going to be the complete picture. Some people like him, and they must have their reasons. Either way, my actual views were irrelevant to the conversation – yet somehow assumptions had been made because I am capable of thinking for myself.
A think this is why in my country, anti-Semites, terrorist-sympathisers and other extremists infiltrated the Labour party (the UK’s main opposition-party) and have all but destroyed it. If you have a moderate view, or you point out any kind of flaw in an argument that you otherwise-support, you are branded as a heretic, not a “true believer”, or even “the enemy”. “The enemy” of course is anyone with a competing view, and is dehumanised as some sort of evil and illogical bogeyman.
This is of course the type of thought-process that leads to things like those that happened in Germany/Europe in the 1930s and 40s, and has been demonstrated countless times since, in many different ways. The most famous examples would probably be Ron Jones’s 1967 “Third Wave” high-school experiment, and Solomon Asch’s 1951 conformity experiments. I think, to some extent, we could also count Philip Zimbardo’s 1971 “Stanford Prison” experiment, and Stanley Milgram’s 1961 electric-shock experiments are also relevant here too. Whilst they all have their various methodological (and other) flaws, they do reveal distinct traits and patterns that can come together with disasterous consequences.
I see moral disengagement on both sides of every debate now. People seem to selectively-excuse themselves from upholding their own values because “I’m right so whatever I do to support it is justified”. When “tolerance” and “equality” campaigners become the very bigots they claim to stand against, it initially doesn’t seem frightening, but scale it up just a tiny bit further and it’s the same logic employed by the Christians who killed suspected Witches and those Muslims who bomb everyone who isn’t Muslim – or even the “right” type of Muslim.
Your views are probably “unpopular” at the moment, because they probably go against the most widely-held “group-think” model of some matter, but independent thought is such a treasure that we can’t afford to lose it. As long as you can back up those views and you’re not doing (or inciting) harm to others, keep ’em coming, whether anyone agrees with you or not!
Oh yes, +1 on your whole concept, as I see it exactly as you describe.
In recent years I’ve noticed an insane amount of persecution for things that are not even meant to be an insult.
It’s strange days the ones we’re living in. Where freedom of speech, even in the most innocent thing, is a right that seems to subjective.
I also agree with @jamesbeardmore, although I would call this ‘group-thinking’ more like ‘mob-thinking-.
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