by Matt Mattson
Everyone's so certain that they're right. But if that's the case, how can everyone else who are also so certainly certain be wrong?
Have you noticed that everyone is trying really hard (now more than ever) to be right? And if they're not sure they're right, they try to be the loudest, the snarkiest, the most cutting, or the most "liked".
Everyone wants to be right, but... you know... that's impossible.
So, let's start here. You're wrong. Yes, you. About a lot of things. That's almost certainly true.
But so am I. I'm wrong. About a lot of things. Yes, even me.
And the sooner you and I admit the fact that we might just not know the right answer, the sooner we can start to learn from each other, work together for a common good, and stop all the fighting.
American politics is the easy example of this. There used to be a time when there was less RIGHT vs. LEFT. It used to be (and I know this is a rosy shade of history) that politicians worked for the good of the country, not for the good of their team. Now it seems that there is this extreme fight to be right (or at least to show that the other team is wrong). The more certain our politicians are about their points of view, the less certain our future as a nation seems to be.
But it isn't just politics of course. It is everyday conversation. It is the way we engage in online communication. We have created these social media echo chambers, which in many cases are reinforced by segregated and isolated socio-economic neighborhoods and communities. We see loud entertaining messages that boost our loosely held opinions, and those loosely held opinions become self-evident facts to our ever melting minds. We seek certainty and we find it within our echo chambers.
So, let's go back to that thing from earlier. You're wrong. So am I. Let's stand in that wrongness and let it wash over us until we're cleansed of our desire for certainty. Let's revel in that new feeling of uncertainty -- though we've spent much of our lives trying to avoid it. Let's be certainly uncertain about a lot of things. Let's have a point of view built from our own truths and evidence, but be open to alternative points of view based on others' own truths and lived experience.
Am I arguing for an ignoring of facts? Am I suggesting that we disregard scientific evidence? Quite the contrary. Engage in discussion, discovery, and dialogue. Value the exploration for truth at least as much as you value the perception of its discovery. Because as long as science has been around, better scientists have been developing better ideas and better methods and better questions and better truths.
Are you sure you're right about that opinion you just posted in the comments section? Perhaps a conversation with someone you know (or better yet, someone different from you) might be a better choice. Your certainty might be an obstacle to a yet discovered truth that's even better than the one you are currently so certain about.
Asking more and better questions might prove more valuable to you (and all of us) in the long run than having more and louder opinions.
You're wrong. So am I. I'm certain of it.