Opinion vs Fact

Variety is often said to be the spice of life. There are so many choices for us to make, what to wear, what to eat, who to love, who to hate, who to talk to, who to ignore, what to think… and it’s all based on our own opinions, which we’re all entitled to. The great mysteries of the world are even up for debate based on opinion.

Occasionally, I’ll find myself discussing something with someone, and I’ll actually feel comfortable enough to express my opinion, but generally I like to keep my opinions to myself. It’s not that I feel that my opinions are offensive or that I just don’t feel like sharing, but because it’s very irritating to me when someone states their opinion as fact, and in my experience that seems to be something that most people find difficult to avoid.

We’ve all been in conversations that start with a statement like “Boy, I could go for a coffee” and end with someone saying “Coffee is disgusting!”.

Not only do I disagree with that statement, but the sentiment as well. I happen to love coffee, and I’m sorry if you don’t. However, calling it disgusting as though it’s a well known fact not only suggests that I am wrong or not entitled to my own opinion, but that I too must cause you some great displeasure by the simple fact that I like that by which you are disgusted …

Yet, I’ve never seen such a person actually cringe or shudder when being around me while I drink coffee, even after exclaiming that they hate it, and it’s disgusting. Were they lying? …No, they weren’t.

What I think is happening in this case is we’ve been told since early childhood that we’re all entitled to our opinions and so encouraged to share them, that we don’t think before we express them as if they are law. Further, people who are on the receiving end of such statements are more apt to exaggerate their own opinions, in an attempt to convey that they disagree, and that their opinion is dominant. It’s the “Is too!” – “Is not” argument we hear children get into, only a little more complicated.

I think if we tell our children that their entitlement to their opinions does not grant them the right to disrespect those of others, we’d be much more well off.

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