No blog in three weeks makes Jack a dull boy. (See what I did there?)
But honestly y’all it has been a minute. I’m sure you’re thinking my hiatus was because of the usual cocktail of anxiety and depression but boy do I have great news for you. It wasn’t! I’ve been very busy and big tings are on the way (if you know you know, if you don’t you will soon).
All of that said, I have still been doing plenty of self-reflecting and deep thinking and here’s what I’ve got:
Neutrality rocks! And everyone should try it.
Let me explain. We live in a place/time/society/era where people know what they know, believe what they believe, and have no interest in expanding either.
The more we hear things we agree with, the more we add them to our piggybank of values. But these new values displace old ones. They take over for thoughts that we didn’t even know were there, things we had no particular feelings about or had never considered before. We stuff our piggybanks of values so full that they become their own like-minded echo chambers.
When we learn new information –– whether stomach-wrenchingly true or conveniently false –– that falls in line with our one-sided banks, we automatically accept the information as fact and form strong opinions accordingly, regardless of how much or how little we actually understand. This helps us believe what we want and discard the rest. (This is most commonly referred to as polarization.)
Now that I’ve spoken on behalf of the masses (that’s a joke) I want to explain what this has all meant for me lately.
Being neutral has never really been my thing. If you’ve ever had a conversation with me you know I’ve got opinions on it all. And maybe neutral isn’t the best term to explain what I mean. But I’ve realized that I’m so committed to my opinions and virtue signaling and trying to fit the perfect liberal snowflake mold that I’ve shut off the critical thinking side of my brain and gone into heuristic overdrive.
The internet is an interesting reflection of our society and it’s where this is exhibited most clearly.
I don’t look into social media posts before accepting or refuting their truth, I simply base their validity on whether they fit my expectations. This most typically means I’ll see a video of an angry white man and assume that he’s racist/sexist/homophobic/etc. and, naturally, in the wrong because that’s what white men are! (That, too, was a joke). Sometimes this is true, but sometimes it isn’t.
People on the internet have a funny way of tricking people into being on their side, and I fall for it almost every time. Posts can be edited, clipped, brought up from the past and I take them at face value instead of looking for more information.
Now listen up kids I am very smart so if I can fall for this, so can you. Because the internet isn’t a place that’s concerned with what’s right and what’s wrong.
It’s also a place where you may not be wrong, but you’re probably mistaken.
But at the end of the day this blog isn’t just about being tricked by deepfakes on YouTube. It’s about how I got to this overly-liberal-virtue-signaling state.
My boyfriend always says that you should never value the information that you know more than the information that you don’t.
I’m the type of gal to bet all I’ve got on the information that I know. I’m also the type of gal who has no business gambling.
When it comes down to it we all have more to learn, and if you think you know everything there is to know in this world then you have even more learning to do. I’ve had my fair share of humbling –– read: humiliating –– experiences with assumptions, and I’ve decided that it’s time I hear people out.
Now this doesn’t mean that I agree with everything I hear. I still disagree with many (many) things. But listening to arguments and ideas I wouldn’t typically tolerate has helped me not only understand other people’s perspectives, it’s given me insight into my own thought processes. It also makes me question these processes and why I’m so quick to assume that something is good or bad, true or false, worthy or a waste of my time.
I’ll let you in on a self-reflection trade secret: it’s because I’m biased.
We all are, you can’t really help it. But if I learned one thing in college (other than cognitive dissonance) it’s that the first step in diminishing bias is recognizing it. The second step is educating yourself.
Some of our biases and assumptions are good; they keep us safe from wild animals and creepy men at bars. But it’s still important to recognize them and determine whether your biases are helping you or holding you back from a happier, healthier, more factual and accepting life for yourself and others.
The more you listen and ask questions the better detective you’ll become. Even if you aren’t yearning to be the next inspector gadget, you’ll at least be able to decipher the president’s lies and internet trickery to protect your beautiful brain from misinformation.
To be honest I’m not good at this yet. Y’all know I’m not perfect and I’m always going to have my precious lil opinions. But it’s not about being perfect. It’s about being cognizant.
Try it out, neutral tones look better on everyone anyway.
With love and big news for y’all next week,