In the age of information, are you actually seeking information or are you seeking affirmation? When you accept something as truth, do you seek out other sources that may question that truth or do you seek out outlets that continually affirm your truth?
“If they would just be informed.” I hear this statement often from people that are on a health journey and want the people in their closest circles to jump on board with them. The statement should actually read something like this. “If they would just accept my truth as their truth, they would then be affirming all the time and energy I have put into seeking out and creating this world view. Whom do they think they are for not agreeing and affirming my views?”
I especially see this with diets. Whether it’s vegan, paleo, keto, or the ‘hell no’ diet. It’s easy to then seek out references and data points that back up your view point. Seriously, how many 300 page books do you have to read that end with the same conclusion that gluten is bad?
If that is you (me included), you are practicing seeking affirmation, not seeking information. The information you do seek regarding the other view point is often to show those supporters NOT how your view is right but how their view is ultimately dangerous.
If there’s something more annoying than arguing with a person seeking affirmation, it’s arguing with a person seeking affirmation through fear motivation. This is our current presidential race right now. If so and so is elected, look at all the ways our country will crumble under their leadership. Relax, we will all be ok.
In honor of seeking information instead of just affirmation, I have a few challenges for you.
Never ‘inform’ someone about your view unless you are asked for information.
This challenge is circumstantial. If you see a kid, even if it’s not yours, that is about to run into the street, heavily inform that child that they are about to get hit by a truck. By heavily inform, I mean grab them and pull them back.
My point is that unless there is a relationship with the other person, a real dialogue about the issue at hand (diet, fitness routine, vaccination, politics, religion, or even the greatest quarterback of all time) will not be productive. In a social media dominating world, everyone has a voice, or at least they think they do. Wearing a ‘meat is murder’ shirt, mocking a CrossFitter, or calling a pro-vaccine MD uneducated does nothing but create confirmation bias of the opposing view towards their original belief. Mocking my views, or telling me ‘to go educate yourself,’ doesn’t make me change my view an create any desire to question it. It enhances it and shuts me down in trying to form any relationship with you.
Actually look at the information of the opposing view with an emotionless, stoic, open mind.
What you will see is that under the details of the opposing view point, you actually share a common value. A pro-lifer person and a pro-choice person actually have more in common than what’s on the surface. There are always exceptions but both sides are trying to discern what’s best for that child long term. Where the disagreements happen is in the practice of how that happens.
When looking at the view from the opposing view, just look at the data, not the commentary that goes with it. This will help take the emotion out of it. I once had a reader comment that since I use sarcasm in my writing of serious topics, she was unable to take anything I wrote seriously. I’m sorry, I grew up in an SSL household (Sarcasm as a Second Language). If that’s the case, just use the data, ignore my commentary around it, and formulate your own conclusion.
Turn off your prime source of information.
For a week, turn off your prime source of information and analyze if you got dumber by not listening to it. I have a sneaking suspicion you will be just fine. If you’re lost as to what to do when you encounter an opposing view, act in accordance to your personal values instead of regurgitating one-liner bromides from the talking head on TV. Though we are a world of different race, religions, genders, and economies, we all share the same basic values: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.
Challenges are the only way we grow. It doesn’t matter if it’s your muscles, your immune system, relationships, or political affiliation. The cool thing about seeking out the other side’s view point on your terms is that you’re in control. No one is trying to hammer it down your throat, when you won’t even open your mouth. Take solace in the control and comfort in the challenge on your own terms.