Perception is defined as a way of regarding, understanding, or interpreting something; a mental impression. And it is the dangers of perception that I believe holds most people back.
Why do I believe this? For most people, their perception is based on assumption and hearsay. It is not based in fact or research. People become products of the impressions that are made on them by Facebook, Twitter, news feeds, conversations with friends, conversations with coworkers, etc. The vast majority of people do not express opinions or views that they own.
What do I mean by “own.” To own an opinion means you have taken the time to educate yourself by reading, investigating and researching all of the elements of the topic. You have taken the time to view the topic from multiple angles and from multiple viewpoints. When you own an opinion you are not regurgitating what you have been told or repeating what you have heard on news feeds. Owning your opinion is a process of deep introspection and education that does not come easily, nor should it. But when you own your view or opinion, it is not something that has come via a Facebook meme.
If you own your opinion then the following question is easily answered: what supporting research can you site that has helped you form your opinion? Many people do not own their opinion, but act as if they do. These are the people that educated individuals call fools: those that act unwisely. And my experience is that many people are fools because they are not informed, yet speak as if they are. I don’t write this to offend anyone, but to provoke each of us to stop living under the umbrella of assumption and hearsay and begin to educate ourselves and form our own views; views we can own. It has taken me 43 years to truly understand this, although I studied Descartes 23 years ago.
I am not sure where I am going with this argument. I guess the election has revealed the ignorance of the general population. I will be the first to tell you I am not educated in the area of politics. I get frustrated with people that speak as if they are “informed” when in fact they are repeating comments from the Fox or CNN newscast. People become an amalgamation of things they have heard which creates their perception of reality. They ‘copy and paste’ their opinion from the page of other people’s lives.
Instead of saying “I don’t know,” people puke up something a friend told them in order to have something to say. Or maybe they regurgitate the last article they read on New York Times? Regardless of the source, I think it is beneficial to learn to say “I don’t know” or “I’m just not educated on that topic.” I say both often.
I don’t have a clear cut answer on this topic. I wanted to open the conversation and see where it leads. In the end, I think it is important for us to realize the importance of developing a clear understanding of who we are and what we truly “own.”
So I leave you with one question…Do you own your opinions or have you simply borrowed them from others?