You’ve probably seen the “I was today years old when I learned” meme floating around the internet. It’s usually followed by some little-known or obscure fact of life, such as the best-before dates on beauty products (the little icon of a tub with a number on it represents how many months shelf-life the product has – I know, right! Mind = blown).
But when it comes to our opinions and beliefs – often founded on our parents’ and teachers’ own opinions and beliefs, as well as sometimes out-dated societal norms – it’s incredibly rare to hear an adult admit “I learned something new today and it changed my mind”.
It’s cool to be clever (and kind)
Is there an age at which the vast majority of our opinions have already been formed and we just stop taking in new information that could shape them? When does it stop being cool and start being embarrassing to completely change our viewpoint based on newly-learned info?
Stay open-minded and curious
Society loves putting us in boxes, forcing us into a grouping of people with similar thoughts and beliefs. Facebook is one of the worst places for it. If you’ve seen The Social Dilemma on Netflix you’ll know what I mean.
The social network listens to what we like, it absorbs the posts we comment on and share, the people we friend and follow, and the pages and groups we join. And then it creates an echo chamber especially for us, a hall of mirrors reflecting back what we already believe – distorting it slightly until we don’t know what’s fact and what’s fiction. But it’s too late, because we’re surrounded now, and nowhere is a challenging voice or a neutral commentator to be found.
Let’s normalise changing our minds when presented with new information.
A change could do some good
In the last twelve months, we’ve been through a lot. From George Floyd’s murder and the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement, to the Coronavirus pandemic and the rising abuse of the AAPI community, and the murder of Sarah Everard and the resulting #reclaimthenight protests. We’re tired of the systemic racism and misogyny that we’ve witnessed and experienced our entire lives. And it’s time to make a change.
Let’s face facts
It’s natural to feel defensive and push back when we hear something we don’t like or that shocks us, like the fact that 71% of women have been sexually harrassed, or that black women are 4 times more likely to die in pregnancy and childbirth, or that suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45. But instead of digging our heels in and insisting it’s all fake news, let’s dig deeper. Let’s find out the facts, read up on the story behind the statistic and educate ourselves before forming an opinion.
Changing your mind doesn’t make you a hypocrite. It actually makes you a pretty awesome human. So don’t worry about being called ‘inconsistent’ or ‘gullible’ or ‘lacking conviction’. As they say, ‘the people who mind don’t matter, and the people who matter won’t mind’.
What’s the last thing you changed your mind on? I think mine was Caroline Flack after watching the documentary on her life and death. It’s a moving watch if you’re interested. I also highly recommend watching Roman Kemp’s docu on male suicide, it really opened my eyes to the mental health crisis among men and young boys in the UK. Heartbreaking but really important viewing.