Strong Opinions, Weakly Held

The age of information has started showing strong signs of vulnerability and emotional weakness, and desperately needs to embrace, and champion, its closest aide — intellectual empathy. The dissonance between intellect-led rationale and information-fed opinion is more evident than ever, thanks to the inflation in value of like-and-share based social ranks. When mere democratic agreement becomes the arbitrer of validity, credibility and authenticity become increasingly irrelevant.

In our tale of misfortunes, the young lady ‘information’ has two ugly step-siblings — biased information and misinformation, which without the combo-power-filters of skepticism and discretion, could easily be confused for healthy triplets. Instead, however, we’ve assumed hard positions — individual, partially informed and apparently invaluable to discussion, discourse and even diatribe. And that’s how we roll into all spaces (even the safe ones; especially the safe ones), online and offline. Carrying these very strongly held opinions, that become our arsenal in a cocksure yet curtailed exchange of ideas on various platforms, is the only sense of identity one can have in what could best described as a braying contest.

The oft-encouraged proclivity to ‘stand your ground’ ends up being corrosive to the idea of healthy discussions and not much, apart from intellectual empathy, would allow you to step out of your well-constructed bubble, question your own convictions, re-look at the credence of your sources, and tread towards agreement or respectful disagreement, albeit cautiously.

However, to elucidate, the aggressive, alpha-dog expression of one’s opinions isn’t what’s under question here, regardless of how off-putting it might be in a social setting, but it’s how much of inertia these opinions possess and how, not much seems to help budge their position. “Strong opinion, weakly held”, is the sentiment that, to me, espouses what’s critically necessary right now.

Just the fact that discussions and debates around politics, feminism, pop-culture and even memes could sound so much more clear, informed and most-importantly, respectful, if only people put themselves in the position of others before debating them, should perhaps be incentive enough to hug this idea.

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