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Monday, April 8, 2013

Opinionation Station

I don't know if its a current trend or if I am just starting to notice it amongst people more, but it seems that a lot of people are extremely opinionated.  I know, not exactly a revelation, but let me explain a little more as I myself have a tendency to be opinionated.  I guess what I am noticing more is not that many people are opinionated, but more that they are inflexible in their opinions, unable to look at the broader picture with an open mind and consider the fact that their opinion might in fact be wrong.   I will be the first to admit that I fall victim to this at times, especially when I believe strongly in something.   However, I also make a conscious effort to look at the broader picture and not just focus on one narrow aspect of a belief to drive my opinion.   I don't know if its the fact that anyone with an opinion these days can find someone or something to support that opinion and therefore believe more strongly that it is the one and only way something should function, proceed, act...or if its just that people are unwilling to entertain other ideas that may fly in the face of everything they believe.  For the latter, I myself have trouble entertaining an idea or alternate opinion if my beliefs are extremely strong about something and if the other avenue is radically different.  Yet, most of the time I find it within myself to at least open myself to the notion or thought and explore it at least briefly disregarding it.  What I have come to realize, and am still working on accepting, is that there is not just one way of doing things, nor is there just one correct opinion.  Yet, I run into a lot of people who feel that their opinion is the only one that counts, the only way to look at things, and that anyone or anything that flies in the face of their opinion and beliefs is wrong.  Which raises the question of at which point do our opinions become beliefs?  I think I will leave that question alone for now and tackle that another day, perhaps.  I have found that by attempting to talk to these people, some of them friends, is pointless, at least when it comes to discussing an opinion of theirs or mine that may be contentious and divisive.  Yet, I also have friends whom I can get into a contentious discussion with over differing opinions and in the end remain friends and perhaps have tweaked our opinions a little through our discussion. 
There aren't many friends of mine with whom I can do this.  That isn't to say that most of my friends aren't opinionated, they are, its just that most of my friends are not willing to entertain alternate ideas to their opinions or beliefs.  Even if they can entertain alternate ideas, often times they find it hard to back up their own and discuss them in a meaningful way that will lead to greater understanding amongst both of us.  Perhaps that is why some of them don't want to entertain other opinions or ideas; because their own aren't solid enough.  Perhaps that is why many people don't want to entertain other ideas and stand behind theirs is if it is the only one that matters.  All I do know is that I sometimes wish people were a little more flexible and open when it comes to discussing opinions and ideas.  I find it very disconcerting to get into a discussion in which differing opinions are brought up only to have my opinion outright rejected as if it doesn't matter.  It doesn't happen very often, but when it does, I push back, try to engage in a discussion in which both opinions are laid on the table and a middle ground can be reached, yet often times the conversation ends with an agreement to disagree and there is no further discussion on that topic.  There is one friend of mine in particular who I don't talk to often enough that I can get into a discussion about our sometimes radically differing opinions and push each other to consider why we have the opinion we do and why we believe what we do.  Most people I talk to shut down if a discussion reaches the point of trying to explain our beliefs and opinions in a meaningful way.  Perhaps it is just my philosophical background that likes to question things, get into the deeper meaning of things and explore why people do what they do, believe what they believe and hold the opinions that they do.  This friend of mine is also a philosopher at heart and perhaps that is the reason that we can go where we go in our discussions.  I find it takes a great deal of security in one's self to go down that road, exploring our beliefs in a way that sometimes makes us question if in fact we are correct in the opinions we hold and the beliefs we espouse.  Its not an easy road for often times we find that we are wrong or that we don't have the basis for a belief or opinion that we thought we did.  Yet going down that road leads to a greater self awareness and understanding of who we are and why we do what we do. 
Any chance I get to travel down that road of personal inquisition, especially through conversation with a friend, I take it.   We can't travel down that road alone for if we do, it is harder to question our own beliefs and truly see if we are at fault or if we need to tweak our opinions and beliefs.  If we question ourselves, we will arrive at the answers we want, not the ones we need.  It isn't until we engage with someone else and have them bring out those tough questions that sometimes seem to erode the very basis of our self that we can really get to a deeper meaning of who we are and what makes us tick.  I think that perhaps part of why people are so much more opinionated these days and less willing to flex on their opinions and beliefs is that there is a lack of desire to dig deep and see what underlies those opinions and beliefs.  Perhaps there is a fear that their opinions and beliefs are unsubstantiated and wouldn't hold up in a rational discussion.  Or perhaps it is just the fact that a little self exploration is too hard and exposing for them to want to go through.  Whatever the case may be, I think we could all do with exploring why we hold the opinions we do and what is the actual basis of those opinions.  Going further, perhaps we could all do with a little more flexibility when it comes to discussing differing opinions.  There is never just black and white.  There is a whole gray area in between any opinion that warrants discussion, a little introspection, and perhaps a little tweaking of our own opinions.  There is a lot involved with opinions and I purposefully left it a little vague because to talk about anything in particular in a general setting such as this would be akin to opening a can of worms.  Not that I don't like opening that can of worms, its just that its Monday and those worms can wait.  I just wish people would be a little more open and flexible sometimes when it comes to opinions.  That's all. 

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