Opinions Are Not Truths

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When confronting our opinions, it’s important to ask ourselves, “What is the truth?”

I’m going to be honest here, much of my opinion is formed from what I feed myself, and therefore is a perspective on truth, but likely not the whole truth. I try to glean information from a variety of sources and not just the sources that tell me what I want to hear. Still, I’m not even sure if it’s possible to know the whole truth in our era of relentless micro-targeted electronic transmission. Our corporate media may present itself as being liberal or conservative or centrist, but the insatiable 24 hour news cycle is ever seeking the sticky stuff, and that means sensationalizing and exaggerating to keep us glued to the screens. That’s how they sell the soap, folks. We are all being manipulated by media and marketers and politicians. Our every click, view, and move is being tracked and the information we’re fed is being carefully orchestrated to appeal to us on a visceral level.

If I believe something to be true, that doesn’t make it true. It makes it my belief. If I’m not constantly challenging my beliefs and their sources, then how can I be sure of their validity?

I’m fascinated by the ways we come to see our opinions as truths. People will fight relentlessly with someone who holds and opposing view, and get nothing more from that exchange than the belief that they were right and the other person was wrong. Maybe they were both wrong, or both a little bit right, or maybe one of them was wrong and the other one was right. Some of that depends on your perspective, but it seems these days that everyone is clear about one thing, they are right and no amount of evidence to the contrary, however strong, matters.

I’ve been watching people begin to ratchet up the rhetoric as we approach the 2020 election, and to be honest, it’s disheartening. This isn’t a two sided coin, it’s fragmented further. Take, for instance, the Nancy Pelosi conundrum. Liberals, moderates, and conservatives alike will insist she’s the devil incarnate. Ask them why, and they’ll offer a variety of firmly held opinions, swearing they are truths. Yet, pin them down for facts and they elude.

Are their opinions truths?

Is Nancy Pelosi the devil incarnate?

Would you say the same thing about her if she was a man? Is there inherent bias in the way we view a powerful older woman? If so, how does that bias inform our opinions of her? If you feel she’s ‘evil’, can you dig deep to figure out exactly why you feel that way? This satire article shines the light on this bias and the ways in which we are manipulated into believing things that may or may not have any basis in fact. Women are suspect, especially powerful women, and most definitely powerful older women. Therefore, any negative narratives written around them resonate, on an archetypal level, with our collective unconsciousness.

When a steady drip, drip, drip of negativity surrounds someone, some of it starts to stick. I don’t know what it is about this person I don’t like, but I know I don’t like them. If you dig a little, can you get to the center of that thought? Is it based in truth, or is it an opinion formed from the calculated air of negativity that appears to surround them?

Beyond the complexities of gender bias, what about the other firmly held opinions we hold based on what we feed ourselves? Do any of us know the absolute truth? Does it even exist? I am confronting my convictions, my truths, my beliefs, and opinions. What do I know to be true? What is formed by the information I’m feeding myself. Are the biases inherent in the source of this information or in the way I am processing this information? How can I stay flexible, a word I’m finding has a lot of resonance this week, and be open to the distinct possibility that my opinions may be lacking in a factual basis?

Food for thought.

Our opinions are not facts, they’re beliefs based on the information we feed ourselves.

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