Facts and Opinions

I should warn you right up front…this post is going to contain some shocking information. I won’t leave you hanging wondering what it is, I’ll get it out of the way right up front so you don’t have to wonder what it is any longer.

Not everything you read on the internet, and particularly in Social Media, is true. There it is! I said it! I mentioned the unmentionable! 

That’s not new information by the way, many of the things we see online and in social media have always been a little sketchy. It’s just that it’s so much more prevalent lately. It also has spilled over into the media. It used to be safe to assume that if it was reported in a newspaper or a network news program that it was an absolute fact. That may or may not be true anymore. 

Some of you may say that “my network is absolutely true, it’s the “other side’s” network that promotes lies.” That only proves my point…the facts reported on any network may or may not be true.

Anything you see or read on the internet or social media, especially social media, may or may not be true. 

So maybe we ALL need to apply a little more common sense to our beliefs and a tad bit less emotion. 

If you’re like me you tend to believe what you want to believe. If you’re like me you tend to believe things that are told to you by the people you hang around with…the ones who think like you. If you’re like me then when someone you don’t particularly like says something or tells you something you’re incredibly skeptical. So much so that you almost instinctively know they are likely wrong. Or lying. 

People like me and my friends never exaggerate or “create” a statistic or “fact” that helps to prove our point. Only “other” people do that. 

A study done by the University of Massachusetts found that most people lie in everyday conversations when they are trying to appear likable and competent. The study found that 60 percent of people lied at least once in a 10 minute conversation. 

I don’t know this for sure but I’m going to guess that many of those “lies” the study found wouldn’t be considered lies by the person who told them. But they weren’t facts either. They were not supported by any kind of evidence. So if they weren’t facts supported by provable evidence then what exactly were they?

I’m kinda working overtime right now to be more skeptical about the information pouring in from every direction. I’ll eventually decide for myself what’s true or not and I’ll decide with the help of actual evidence, the kind you can see and hear for yourself. I’m working really hard to be okay with being unsure about everything for a day or two until that evidence makes an appearance. If, after a while, no evidence appears then I’ll believe what I want to believe…with the clear understanding that I may be wrong.

That clear understanding that I may be wrong will also cause me to realize that a person who believes differently than me may be right. 

That means someone can be wrong without being a liar. Someone can believe something different than me without being my enemy. Someone can believe something that turns out to be untrue without being an idiot. 

Beliefs without evidence used to be called opinion. We were always told that people were entitled to their opinions but today we act as if there are no opinions, there are only truths and lies. But hanging a sign on a cow that says “Horse” doesn’t make that cow a horse. Believing a different opinion is a lie doesn’t make it a lie either. It’s still an opinion and people are still entitled to their opinions.

One of the things I’ve learned over time is that the people who are “different” than me aren’t really that different. We all have far more in common than our differences would indicate. Find that commonality and you’ll likely find a friend as well.

And who couldn’t use a few more friends in these turbulent times.

Listening is Free

I’m not sure if anyone has noticed but the world, yep, not only the US but the entire world seems divided right now. Never in my lifetime has the divide between different groups of people been wider.

Even in times of World Wars the divide was not as great as it is right now. Even during the World Wars people agreed on more things than they do today. Governments started those wars, not the people of the countries that were dragged into them.

But today is different. The universal language is one of hate. We throw the word hate around as if it almost has no real meaning. People claim to hate people who hate. “We” all hate all the hating going on these days.

We make slogans and signs about who and what matters. We talk about what must change and who must change. I’m struck by the number of people who “demand” immediate change yet refuse to look in the mirror to see if there is any change they could make personally.

Abraham Lincoln is famous for saying many things but one thing he said might be more applicable today than even the day he said it. When commenting on someone he was not particularly fond of he said, “I do not like that man. I need to get to know him better.”

Lincoln knew what too many people today seemingly have forgotten. That is that we human beings have far more in common than we give ourselves credit for. We can focus on the things that draw us together or we can focus on the things the push us apart. That’s a choice.

But that won’t happen until we do something else that seems to be a thing of the past.

That “thing” is called listening.

I mean real listening. Not reading someone’s social media posts. Not hearing some filtered version of what somebody thinks or what someone said someone said someone said. It’s a sad commentary on the world we live in but if you didn’t hear someone say it yourself then you might want to have some doubts about whether or not it was actually said.

Plus…don’t only listen to people who agree with you! Invite conversations with people who have vastly different views and life experiences than you. Do not think them wrong simply because their views are different than yours. Don’t talk to them, talk with them to determine where your views overlap. Build on that overlap!

I take great comfort from talking with people who share my views and beliefs. I like talking to my family and friends. But whatever growth I experience at this point in life comes from talking with people who frankly might not be my first choice to talk with.

You and I do not have to like the people who see the world differently than we do but we do need to understand how they view their life. We need to understand that if our life experiences were identical to theirs that our views would likely be identical too.

Most of all we need to get to know them better. The more we know about people the less chance there will be that we judge them. I want to say that again….the more you know about someone the less chance there is that you will judge them.

Listen more. Listen with your heart and your mind WIDE open. Listening is free but it just might be that it liberates you from hate. Listening is one of those things that while free it is also priceless!

Listening, really listening to different views could save you great pain. It could save your Country severe turmoil. Listening, truly truly listening to one another might even save the world.

Why Different is Good

Being better tomorrow than you are today requires that you do something different today than you did yesterday.

 

I think most of us, I know it’s true for me, are creatures of habit. I like doing the same things with the same people pretty much all the time. The people I like the most are the people who are just like me, they believe the same things I believe, the say the same things I say and they like to do the same stuff I like to do…or at least mostly. One thing not everybody I know likes to do is embrace different viewpoints. 

 

Now truth be told I don’t know if I actually “like” embracing different viewpoints but I do need to. I need to because I have a hunger to learn. I am a student of people and that means I need to understand them…no matter how different their life might be from my own.

 

Here’s the reality, and it’s not just my reality, it is your reality too… As much as I like being around people who are just like me I don’t learn very much from them. We are in agreement on most things, someone in the group says something and everyone nods their head in agreement. “You got that right” is a common refrain. 

 

It isn’t that I like disagreement or being disagreeable but often times it is in that discussion that follows disagreement that you learn. If, and it’s a big IF, if you are open to learning. If you honestly work to truly see things from the other person’s point of view. If you don’t just automatically think they are wrong because they don’t think like you or your friends.

 

It’s pretty tough to learn something new from people who are just like you. It’s even harder to learn something new from people who think exactly as you do. 

 

Never underestimate the fact that you could be wrong, about most anything. You might be the smartest person in the room, you may hold the loftiest position in your organization but that doesn’t automatically make you right about everything.

 

Search out people different than yourself. Invest time in understanding them. Don’t prejudge someone just because they “aren’t like you.” Listen to them and listen to understand them rather than listening for the sole purpose of responding. Understand that there isn’t anyone on earth who doesn’t have or know something they can teach you.

 

Read books with viewpoints you disagree with. Have lunch with someone you wouldn’t normally have a beer with after work. Watch FOX News AND CNN. (That’s almost like living in two different worlds) Genuinely try to see multiple sides of every argument. 


Don’t sacrifice your core values and principles but do try to understand where other people are coming from. Your may discover that if you were them you would think and act just like them. You’re likely to still disagree but at least you’ll understand why. You’ll almost certainly learn something about them and the odds are very good that you’ll learn even more about yourself.