When I hear people loudly espousing opinions that I disagree with, I keep my mouth shut. I have good reasons.
But when I hear people loudly espousing opinions that I agree with, I keep my mouth shut even tighter. In a sort of a mirror post to the one linked above, here are my reasons why I don’t generally admit when I agree with someone:
- I want to avoid echo-chamber reinforcements. I don’t really want to create a situation where I pull people closer to me just because they agree with me on certain opinions. Surrounding yourself with only extremely like-minded people is the way to a closed mind. I’d rather listen to everyone, establish truth myself, and live by it. Others don’t need to know.
- I don’t want my future silence to imply disagreement. If I keep silent sometimes, and other times shout “heck yes,” then my silence starts to mean something that I don’t want it to mean. I like reserving my ability to quietly observe.
- I don’t want to be associated with everything said by the person I agreed with one time. Agreement on one subject or issue has a tendency to creep into associations of all kinds. It’s one of the reasons I avoid political labels, too. If someone shouts “X” and I agree with X loudly, it becomes harder to distance myself when that person says “Y” and I disagree.
- Sometimes you don’t agree with someone enough and that becomes a problem. I remember reading an amusing comic where two guys argued because one of them really really liked the movie 300 and the other one only really liked the movie and that was of course a heinous offense. But that happens frequently! Sometimes I agree with someone, but they’ve taken the view to a point perhaps 5-10% more extreme than I would, and if I say “Hey, I agree with you almost entirely, except for maybe this minor quibble,” then I’ll get attacked worse than if I disagreed entirely. It’s a fact of life that heresy gets vilified far more than opposition.
So when will I allow someone to know that I agree with their position? For the most part – only in private, only if it’s someone who I trust to be a rational thinker, and only if there’s the possibility of good discussion as a result. In other words – rarely.
Of course, I have zero problem voicing my own opinions and views – heck, I do it here every day. And some of those views may be very similar to others you find elsewhere. That’s fine! If, by association, someone were to say, “Hey, Johnny wrote this and it’s really similar to this other thing written by this other person, I guess they agree on this topic,” then that’s just fine. Agreeing with a sentiment, opinion or view is markedly different from agreeing with a person, and I don’t mind the former.
Now, turn this around on me. I write things every day! Some of those things you may agree with. Some you may not. That’s good and healthy. It’s possible you may even agree with most of what I write – that’s fine too! After all, I write in the sincere hope that people will find benefit, and in order for something to benefit you it has to change you in some way, so in a way I do hope that my writing influences others, convinces them of the merits of my arguments. It may even be the case, as has happened once or twice, that you read something I wrote and agreed with it to the degree that you shared it with others. I’m okay with all of this.
But I don’t ever want to be unassailable. I write to expose my thinking to the elements. I invite people to disagree publicly and agree privately if that is their wont. I encourage people to agree with caveats, or agree with 50%, or agree but think I don’t go far enough! In other words, I sincerely hope that more than causing you to agree or disagree, these posts encourage you to think, and discover, and evaluate. Your mind has more knowledge than this blog ever will.