Something I now realise quite clearly is that many people have a great deal of trouble changing an opinion. By “opinion”, I mean a long held view on a substantive issue, a view that you are associated with by the people who know you well.
I’m not thinking of trivial things like which cafe to have the obligatory coffee and cake at today… cinnamon or chocolate, etc? What I am talking about is, can you, once you have formed and held and publicly expressed an opinion or view on a substantive issue for a period of years, some time later on – if say you have new information or a new perception about the topic or the information – abandon your long held, publicly expressed view, and distinctly alter your opinion, as would be acknowledged by others?
An extreme example might be your religious views. If you are of waivering or intermittent faith, is it possible you could see yourself openly abandoning that faith altogether one day and becoming a free thinker or even come out against religion entirely? Maybe not. It is more likely that people might go in the other direction and become born again.
A more likely, less extreme circumstance could involve the views about a nation or an institution like the media. Remember when we all thought TV and newspaper articles were the gospel truth? (I’m 62 ha ha). Especially the biggest or most prestigious media outlets like the New York Times or the BBC. They all spoke and wrote so professionally and authoritively and they dressed so well and smiled so much, it would never occur to ask what could be wrong with believing in them totally would it?
One of the reasons for this web site is that I have had many such changes in my public opinions these last years. My long held opinions about the UK Royal Family for example – being a decided royalist in past decades – have morphed in more recent times, to a point now where I think the institution must go. And on that note, my traditional views about Diana, Princess of Wales, which were not always flattering, have changed as well. I’m now much more sympathetic to her and her life, to the point where it makes me wonder how she really did die. I’ll cover that in another post.
My point is simply that from my observation, I don’t know anyone who changes their traditional views and opinions very often – if ever. Even in the face of what seems to be clear and obvious challenges to their views. Perhaps their views never change especially in the face of challenges to their views. They dig in.
Maybe I’m a bit like that, but I don’t think so. Alot of my views are relatively newly held, based upon a much wider understanding of, and interaction with, the wide world. Most people it seems to me, don’t really interact with the wide world at all – they have only superficial or fleeting contact with it via the internet and global mainstream media, which as we now know, only supplies information to their screens that they know the user already likes. So no challenges to opinions from those sources.
It seems to me that once people have formed a view on something, they stick with that view forever. Once you declare yourself to be a “royalist” you stay a royalist, or you stay a christian or a liberal etc. You stay a soccer person and not a rugby person and vice-versa.
Of course, some people have trouble actually forming an ongoing and crystalized opinion in the first place. Forming the type of opinion that has been publicly defended in a cohesive structured fashion over time. It is easy to ambivalent on things, for you are never wrong and always partially correct. So these people don’t really have a genuine opinion to change anyway. These people’s comments include “that doesn’t interest me” or “I’m keeping an open mind about that.”
That might be the way to go for some people but that is not for me.
Thanks for being here. Think about your opinions and ask your friends. Share your stories. And mine too please :o)