In an era of social media activism when almost everyone is a champion for some cause, when “silence is violence,” when “being silent is being complicit,” etc. It seems that we are presented with no choice but to take the side of whatever peer group we desire to belong to or want to stay a part of. Deviation from prescribed thoughts/opinions get us booted from social groups we have based our identities on so we like/share/repost/retweet whatever well-designed graphic influential peer group-approved accounts share on social media.
As very social beings, we humans crave the approval and company of others. We self-censor to appease others and to remain part of our social groups. There is no wonder we are seeing a wave of support for otherwise untrue/inaccurate/misleading/idiotic information/rhetoric. In the quest for membership to high-status peer groups, we ingratiate ourselves to current members at the expense of critical thinking and our moral integrity.
But what if I tell you it’s okay to have no opinion? That it’s okay to not have all pertinent available information to assess the validity/correctness of a claim? That it’s okay to care more about your own personal issues that affect you the greatest? That it is normal to not care about everything at the same level at the same time?
Recently I have been practicing saying “I don’t know much about it to formulate an opinion.”
Not having an opinion …
Allows you to gather information on the subject and consider all sides. Sure you still have personal biases, but at least you are going into your research on a mostly clean slate and are not trying to prove yourself right/wrong.
Frees you from having to defend an opinion you aren’t equipped to defend.
Adds weight to the few but well-formulated opinions you do choose to share. When you don’t share much or what you consistently share is perceived as valuable, people tend to pay attention to what you say. Being consistently off-the-mark does no good to your reputation. Reputation is social currency so be wary of tarnishing it for fleeting brownie points.
You need not react to everything. Sometimes, it is best to be neutral so you can think clearly and strategize well for the future. You must also remember that when you react to everything, you become predictable and thus more easily manipulated. Like a dear friend of mine once told me:
“Never miss an opportunity to shut the f*ck up.”