Originally I started to write a very different post than this one. However, this thread of thought has caught me and will niggle at me until I write it down.
If you want to read the piece that inspired this post, please see it here, it’s a very good read.
The piece above started me thinking on how people consume ideas. In a world where we have unlimited access to ideas, I see many people choosing to have ideas filtered away from them. The main cause of this in my opinion is Facebook.
I know many people who only get their online news from Facebook, either not realising or simply dismissing that Facebook filters out everything we might not be interested in. Sure there may be the occasion where the content is simply intellectually worthless, like the millionth kitten or dog video (not that I’m against kittens or dogs, but I think everyone can agree if we had to watch a million of them a day we’d get a bit tired of them), however, this leads to a big loss: missing out on ideas.
Ideas are how the human race has got to where it is, but in an age where an idea can go from one person to 100 million in a matter of minutes, there are many people who live a sheltered life not exposed to ideas that could challenge or temper their beliefs.
I truly think this is the biggest loss in this day and age, I’m a big believer that one must be exposed to ideas that go against your own to ensure you truly hold those beliefs.
If we didn’t listen to new opinions, the majority of people would still believe that the world is flat and that Creationism is the one and only truth. As ridiculous as that sounds, both Copernicus and Darwin were ridiculed by the masses for years before their ideas converted enough people. And there are still people who believe that the world is flat and that Evolution is a myth.
If you want to be able to defend your ideas, you should know the other individuals ideas better than they know their argument. I think we live in a world where people only want to listen to ideas that they agree with, but how do they know they really agree with them if they haven’t heard and considered an opposing opinion.
The world where ideas and opinions are embraced as equals is a world of peace, as we will understand people better and be able to articulate our ideas far better. The world where you only listen to ideas you agree with is the world where people who hold certain beliefs will be oppressed by the majority who disagrees with them and isn’t willing to listen.
So I think we should all strive to be exposed to more ideas, I suggest you use Twitter, or DuckDuckGo to look up a topic you’re interested and read widely on the topic. Making sure to read ideas that you both agree with and disagree with, and take the time to understand all the arguments as deeply as you know your own. This will help you understand your ideas more thoroughly or may even improve them.
Anyway, that’s my rant for the week, I leave you with a quote from Annie Besant, who knew that the ability to understand opposing ideas was very important for a functioning society.
“Quick condemnation of all that is not ours, of views with which we disagree, of ideas that do not attract us, is the sign of a narrow mind, of an uncultivated intelligence. Bigotry is always ignorant, and the wise boy, who will become the wise man, tries to understand and to see the truth in ideas with which he does not agree.” — Annie Besant