We All Talk but Should We Learn to Listen?

“Ain’t it like most people, I’m no different, we love to talk on things we don’t know about”–The Avett Brothers

Opinions on virtually every subject can be found in the media we consume, the comment sections on popular news articles, and most of our social interactions. Many in this society are able to find commonality and understanding in shared point-of-views but our opinions also seem to have the power to divide us beyond reckoning. By creating social commentary that fits within a predisposed or commonly accepted ideology, depending on the circles we swim in, our values and basic understanding of the world around us help to find which social arena or “tribe” we belong to.

There are many problems caused by our natural human need to be part of a group because it creates an us vs. them mentality. My race, gender, religion, etc. are all elements that can cause tribalism, but in today’s society, tribes are being created and influenced by popular opinion (i.e. liberal vs. conservative, Republican vs. Democrat, “enlightened” vs. ignorant, etc.).

But our article today isn’t about the effects tribalism has on society (we will post one soon), it is about our opinions and why they may or may not matter.

Our beliefs and the opinions we form from them are important to us and voicing them allows us to feel we belong (tribalism). People often contribute their thoughts to a wide-variety of topics hoping to offer insight and provide reasoning for their ideology while simultaneously validating their self-worth. There are endless comments and thoughts on politics, religion, sexism, racism, how to fix social issues–the list can go on forever–but should we offer our opinion on everything? Especially since the general public is not an expert on any of it. Most of the commentary we see/hear is either used to attack & demean, or is regurgitated from another source and often found to be misguided.

Kanye West, a rapper, recently spoke about slavery. His comments offended a lot of people regardless of whether they were taken out of context or not. This sparked a lot of debate between several different viewpoints. Some were angry, some were sad, some didn’t care, but a lot of people provided their thoughts on the matter. Kanye is not an expert on American slave history, neither were most of the people commenting on what he said nor were they psychologists (there was a lot of comments about his mental stability), but a lot of people put in their two cents without even knowing the full story.

Another popular topic has been the discussion of global warming. While we believe what the scientists tell us, we are not experts on the matter but still offer our commentary to those who will listen. This causes us to sometimes write-off what an objector would say as foolish or ignorant without really caring about what they would have to say–it would seem that we just want our voices heard but don’t want to consider the other side’s viewpoint.

I find that to be especially true when my favorite sports teams are losing–I have a lot to say with little-to-no expertise on coaching or running an athletic organization, but my opinion on the matter has zero effect on the game, coaches, or players.

The point we’re trying to make is that we all have something to say and often chime in on any subject despite us not being experts. A lot of people in this world seem to know a little about a lot of things, but that does not make our thoughts on a topic significant; they are just our thoughts. Perhaps, instead of vocalizing our thoughts on everything and jumping to conclusions without fully understanding the complexity of a subject or the intricacies responsible for creating the perspectives of an individual (we’re referring to Kanye), we should first learn to listen so we can better understand the subject being discussed and gather perspective about what makes people tick and how to disagree effectively.

We may also learn a little bit about ourselves and increase our capacity for growth by allowing ourselves to be open to other point-of-views. It may teach us to exercise restraint and allow time to form articulate thoughts and avoid repercussion for something said/taken out of context or misconstrued.

It’s not to say our opinions can’t move mountains (look at all the changes in this nation over the last 60 years), but maybe we should ask ourselves if something is worth commenting on knowing we don’t have all the facts and only a basic understanding of whatever is being discussed.

We all love to talk on things we don’t really know about, but how effective can that really be?

We see the irony in this post as everything said in this article was speculation…we wanted to throw it out there and see what our reader’s thoughts are! Don’t forget to like, comment, and share with your friends!

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