Age of Opinion

If you are after truth and facts, you are living in the wrong time. This is the age of opinion.

It’s the time of fake news, toxic tribalism, and the idea that truth is more determined by the team you belong to than well… truth.

I’ve been thinking a lot on this topic, beyond the politics or agendas that any group out now espouses to, rather of the need to have fact drive our decisions and why society appears to be hell-bent on ignoring it.

This morning, I was reminded of a quote from Marcus Aurelius, one of the founding fathers of Stoicism and an Emperor of Rome:

“If anyone can refute me—show me I’m making a mistake or looking at things from the wrong perspective—I’ll gladly change. It’s the truth I’m after, and the truth never harmed anyone. What harms us is to persist in self-deceit and ignorance.”

This statement alone is a great example of the opposite of what our current President believes. Yet he is only one example of the stream of nonsense being peddled by those of influence. With social media, it is even happening on a micro-level, with individuals trying to socially-cull anyone who disagrees with them, facts be damned.

The problem is, our emotions are influenced too easily by any outside force. Often, our opinions are spurred on by our emotional, our visceral reactions to any number of topics. Or it could even be based on who we are trying to please. Who we like, who we dislike, can turn our thoughts towards something else. Facts can be dismissed as fake, propagandist, or otherwise simply because they counter our beliefs. In essence, it can show signs of a religion.

It is exactly like having faith when all evidence runs counter.

The problem is that facts do not change. They are as they are. Ignoring them do not impact them. Eventually they will rear back to kick us in the face, whether we believe them or not. The harm we do to ourselves to perpetuate a lie in favor of our opinion on a matter is terrible. Now of course, it might not matter so long as we gain social acceptance. And there also may be the idea that we will die before we have to reckon with our deceits. No matter. The bill of denying truth will always be paid, whether we believe it or not.

 

Featured Image via Pexels user Steve Johnson

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