On a recent thread, Bob made the point that there seems to be a contemporary trend for being very very sensitive about criticism of one’s opinions.
In an era where differing points of view have never been available in greater quantity, variety or vapidity, it seems curious that their perceived currency should have multiplied, rather than reduced, but that does rather seem to be where we are just now. Attack the opinion and you attack the author, the two are simply indivisible.
Perhaps it’s a function of the tendency for the ad hom in Internet debating – the impersonal is never more than inches from getting personal. Perhaps being given a platform for our thoughts has give us delusions of grandeur. Perhaps we’re all just narcissistic tossbags who’ve spent too much time navel gazing and expect the world to roll out the red carpet for us and our pathetic musings.
It seems a great shame to me. Very few of my own views are worth getting seriously aggravated over, other than for the sport of heated discussion. They’re just opinions, everyone has them, they don’t mean much to anyone else. Plus, if you’ve an audience of a hundred people, it’s simple Internet maths that at least one will think what you’re saying is The Worst Thing Ever, and hate you until you die. It’s all good.
But what really concerns me is the prospect of an entire generation painting themselves into a corner. Of being required to form instant views on all manner of topics, and then to hold and defend those views forever, no matter how ludicrous they become, how utterly and publicly they’re debunked. Even on this very site, we have Grafeful Dead fans. I’ll say no more.
Changing your mind, or (even sexier) having your mind changed, is one of life’s greatest pleasures. It liberates you from your own dogmas, opens your eyes to new ideas and makes you immediately and viscerally 20% more attractive to your chosen sex. It’s how you experience new stuff, meet new people and avoid the mental rut. It also gives greater substance to those opinions which remain unchanged.
It doesn’t, as common thinking now suggests, denote you as woolly headed, lacking in moral fortitude or indecisive. Rather, it demonstrates that you’re a listener as well as a talker, that you’re adaptable and engaged in a truly honest inner dialogue, and – most of all – that you’re genuinely open to life. Plus, it means you can adopt any opinion you like, safe in the knowledge that if if doesn’t work out, you can always just change it. You’re not marrying the bastard.
Best of all, it means that when you’re online and someone slags off something you’ve just said, you don’t have to let it bother you. Today’s opinion is tomorrow’s chip wrapper, and what do they really know about you anyhoo?
So then, this is a thread to celebrate the alteration of views. A thread on which to tell us about the most notable times you’ve changed your mind, and how that worked out for you.
I’ll start with my own top five:
(i) I genuinely used to believe as a teen that physicality (other than football, natch) was somehow base, and in opposition to the intellect. Gyms were for meatheads, surfing was for fools who would trade valuable book reading time to sit around in cold water. There was nothing you couldn’t learn from reading. Literally a good decade wasted.
(ii) I didn’t think Trump could win.
(iii) I used to believe that Bob Dylan was a genius, and that there were geniuses in pop music. Nowadays, that view seems nonsensical to me. Albert Einstein was a genius – he fundamentally changed the way we view the entire universe. Bob Dylan wrote some pretty great lyrics and tunes.
(iv) I used to believe the Rocky movies were moronic franchise fluff designed to appeal to the worst elements of man. Then I actually watched them and discovered that they’re fantastic stoic parables, full of life wisdom and truth behind the bluster.
(v) I once told a large gathering of friends that I would never have children, on the basis that (as I’m frequently and gleefully reminded): “if children were people, you wouldn’t be friends with them”. Ahem.
There are many, many, many more. I’ve been wrong at least as much as I’ve been right, and goddammit it felt good every damn time.
I would just like to add that in the course of writing this post, I bore witness to the actual Kay Burley taking a massive stack while entering the lobby of a fancy building, ostentatious “please don’t notice me, oh go on then notice me” sunglasses on. I believe this augurs well for the thread’s prospects.
Then again, I may be mistaken…
Over to you.