The World of Opinion

I had a bit of a rant yesterday in my blog post. It does come very much from the heart and probably got away from me a bit. Update is that the car isn’t as bad as first thought, which is good news.

It probably came out that way as I have taken a break from posting on social media. I am used to venting or posting opinion on daily matters there, in digested form. It has actually been quite good for me, taking the time away from posting and lurking in the background, reading without commenting. It allows me to really listen to other people, scroll past the posts that are just utter nonsense and unimportant.

A lot of posts on the general election which is happening in the UK, a fair few on where to put the ashes of a children’s serial killer and a lot on TV programs that have the emotive as well as disturbing topic of child abuse.

It does also seem that people are slowly waking up to the serious nature of where we are as a nation right now and how the politics of our government are having a profoundly negative effect on most of the nation. We have a choice, manifestos are being published and digested by people, the media doing their job albeit in a slanted fashion.

Taking politics off the table, it is interesting looking at the psychology used by political parties and the public reaction to these methods. Techniques used differ in their subtlety, getting the public outraged or angry, so that they divide to polar opposites and become easy to pick off. There is also a devastatingly effective method of narrowing the scope of topic to allow furious debate within that scope, in order that people miss the big picture and if a gaffe occurs, then wheel out some controversial subject or scandal so that everyone looks the other way as their outrage takes over.

It’s also interesting to watch the debates unfold, either on social media or face to face. Two effects normally take place when someone’s beliefs are challenged, which are cognitive dissonance and Dunning-Kruger effect.  When someone who has a strongly held belief, such as political or religious, is challenged on that belief and they realise there is a conflict, they go to some lengths to protect those beliefs, often reacting with outrageous and / or emotionally to cover the fact there is a conflict within their own beliefs. They even come up with irrational and illogical solutions to reconcile the conflict.

There are those people who are experts on everything and have little knowledge, no critical thinking or research skills but will protect their opinion that they received from TV, media or an official source that gives them positive bias. They won’t allow challenge or any counterpoint, usually reacting angrily and / or attempt to dehumanise / humiliate personally anyone who holds an opposing view. All this makes them very useful to others, those in authority who hold the public’s ear through media channels. No need to think when told what to believe as it sits with a bias or belief a person holds.

There is a sizeable group of people that see this but when pointing out to others that this is happening, of course it’s not occurring with them, no way. Push too hard, you get the ‘tinfoil hat’ responses, which mean that cognitive dissonance is starting to win the day, which is of course what the senders of the message want to happen.

What I would love to see is people getting past the received opinion, soundbites and manipulation to look at the data, see what’s out there, make an informed opinion. Not someone else’s view of it, but the facts as they are and they are out there. It’s not for me to say where to find this information as people should do their own research. All I can say is that I rarely trust on first sight when opinion is offered as fact or figures released by non trusted sources.

Challenge your own beliefs, allow challenge from others, explore others arguments and see what you can learn. You can learn if you watch and listen without prejudice, seeing the value in another’s opinion. You may not agree, but you can see why they’ve reached that point but above all, challenge your own beliefs and opinions.

Question what you are being told, have your own beliefs challenged and exposed as that will lead you to an enlightened place. I do hope our kids will understand this better than us, as I see the people in the world right now making a complete arse of things.

The effect on our mental health with all this information and manipulation is unprecedented. When it all gets too much, step back and away from all the flow, smell the flowers, listen to the rain. You’ll feel so much better for it.

Look after yourselves and be kind to others who are not being kind to themselves.

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