The Certainty Epidemic

I’ve often wondered both here on this blog and elsewhere about the danger of certainty. Holding any opinion or belief to the extreme of denying any chance of said opinion being wrong is dangerous. Most of us don’t like to hear this. We don’t want to hear that the opinions and beliefs we are emotionally attached to could be wrong. But is it a reality we must all face.

However, social media has made it so you never have to address this reality. We don’t have to address our devotion to certainty because we can exist in echo chambers where we only interact with people who share our opinions, while at the same time silencing, cajoling and essentially abusing anyone outside of this group.

Social media helps to turn the danger of certainty into the reality of extremism, groupthink, and group polarization. All of which work to frame an ‘us vs. them’ mentality which ensures that little to no productive discourse can be generated online.

Because, if you are certain of your opinionated superiority you will naturally begin to condescend to, talk down to, and outright silence anyone who has the ‘incorrect’ opinion (Incorrect in this case meaning any opinion that differs from the one you hold).

I don’t really know how we get out from under this growing issue. We can see it happening in real time though. An issue arises. People pick their teams and begin to post. After this, there is no effort nor desire to reach a common ground. It becomes entirely about highlighting how correct we are whilst demanding that THEY are entirely wrong.

We live in the era of tyrannical opinion, and there are no signs that it’ll go away any time soon.

I suppose right now the best thing we can do is be aware of it. Be aware of the fact that a stranger’s opinion online has made you angry. Become aware of the fact that you are now thumbing your phone aggressively to respond to a stranger who doesn’t see things the way you do. Humble yourself and understand that just because you believe your opinion is correct does not mean that it is correct.

When we see opinions online which we disagree with the healthier thing to do would be to not react at all. We should scroll past and ignore such statements entirely.

In reality though, most of us react. We get angry and we respond and we hurl abuse at the people who dare to suggest that our own way of thinking is wrong. We engage in extremely toxic behaviour. And not only do we normalise this as a reasonable reaction to diverse opinion, we actually reward one another for it. We reward each other for getting viscerally angry at strangers whom well never meet for stating opinions.

I think it goes without saying that this is an element of modern life which is detrimental to our collective mental wellbeing. Something to think about the next time your tempted to shout at someone online.

Drink water and get some air,


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