Have you ever been in a relationship where you suspected the person you were dating (or married to) was cheating on you, but instead of confronting them, you snooped through their shit, hoping to catch them red-handed —only to find they did nothing wrong? Don't worry; you're not alone. Most people gather evidence to validate fear, but there's an excellent reason why doing so is a bad idea: because it does not solve the underlying problem.
Building a case against someone makes sense if you're sitting in a courtroom, but not when you are striking up heated debates with friends and family over an opinion. We call that "being right," and nine times out of ten, whatever ammunition you are carrying around in your pocket will end up shooting blanks.
You will always find evidence when you look for it, but a lot of times, what you end up unveiling is a grey area with various shades of inadequate knowledge. Simply put, things aren't always as they seem, unless you want them to be, and the longer you look for more ways to prove yourself right, the more wrong you become.
We live in a world where social media runs amok, trampling over ideals and intellect. No one is authentic anymore — smoke and mirrors — yet they all claim to be genuine. Ahh, but we have Google to disprove logic, and everything we need to know is right at our fingertips. And so we Google it, whatever IT is, to validate our suspicions, theories, and smugness to anyone who will listen. How does it feel to be so right? Are you winning yet? Because I'm not.
The other day, my daughter told me about a conversation they were having in Social Studies regarding biased opinions. She believes that people who aren't wearings masks to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are stupid. After swearing up and down that she didn't use that exact terminology in class, she confessed to hearing me say the same thing a few months prior —before I woke the fuck up (my words, not hers) and stopped engaging with negativity.
Now, before you get all judgy, calling me a bad mother and emailing to let me know HOW YOU REALLY FEEL, let me spill your tea by throwing myself under the bus. She was right, I did say that, and as her mother and a decent human being, I shouldn't have, but rather than focusing on my mishap, I turned the blunder into a teaching moment for a teenage girl.
We are all entitled to our own beliefs, but what does that mean? By definition, an opinion is a view or judgment formed about something, not necessarily based on fact or knowledge. Just because we feel strongly about something doesn't mean that we are right. If that were true, then everyone is right. Why, then, are so many people touting about as if their views are the only ones that make sense? How do you base an argument on an idea when there's nothing to back it up?
The truth is that most people are followers who are either too busy or too lazy to double-check data for accuracy. Instead, they shuffle behind the dominant hand and mimic the angry fist that smashes against a table covered in false hope. It would almost be humorous if it weren't fucking up civilization.
There is a difference between fact-based learning and evidence seeking behavior. One leads to knowledge and power; the other leads to regret. Can you recognize the difference?
If you're tired of not knowing what to believe and want to find the truth, stop looking for evidence to prove yourself right, step away from your comfort zone, and seek the facts. One of the smartest things I ever did was remove all news from my Facebook feed and research on my own, privately; it opened my eyes and gave me a new lease on life. My only regret is not doing it sooner.
There is a lesson to be had for all of us. The trick is — because there's always a catch — you must open yourselves up to the possibility that you were wrong, and that's a hard pill for 99.9% of people to swallow. Do you want world peace? Be the one percent that chooses to take that risk. I promise you will thank me later.