A book I was reading recently was talking about the way we speak, the way we hold opinions, and the fact that we often feel as though we know more about what we’re talking about than we actually do.
It’s an interesting idea, and it made me sit and think about public discourse in the media in this country and how superficial it is. How an issue can be in the media for years, discussed daily, with hours and hours of time devoted to it, and yet the analysis can be so superficial, because all we ever get are thirty second grabs, that we never really get any more deeply into it.
The provocative thing this author was arguing was to examine our own opinions and to ask ourselves, how long have I really thought about that? Have I actually read about it in any depth? Have I actually challenged my opinions by reading alternate views? Have I tested my beliefs, have I read any research articles?
It’s amazing how many of our opinions that we expound daily are based on very minimal reading or knowledge. I consider myself more interested in politics than a lot of people in society, but I admit my actual knowledge in a lot of areas is sketchy at best.
I kind of agree with the author that we have entered an age where having an opinion and expressing it is valued more than listening or learning. We all feel this need to seem certain about things.
Twitter and Facebook debates just encapsulate this trend. It’s all about volume of voices, number of people shouting, all of our ambiguity or ambivalence deleted in the need to parse things down to 140 characters.
I’m going to suggest a revolutionary solution. Let’s all try to say, once a day, “I don’t know. I might try to find out some more about that”. I think our society would be better for it.