“Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet just because there’s a picture with a quote next to it.” – Abraham Lincoln
This is a post about opinions. This is a post about fact checking. This is a post about knowing your resources. This is a post about trust.
Back in July, I made a trip to Nashville with a summer baseball team that I was coaching. During that trip, Lauren and I were able to meet up with some friends for dinner. As the conversation turned to some books I was reading and ideas that I had, one of friends reminded me some of some great advice: “Remember that everything you hear is always just someone else’s opinion.”
We are inundated with information. There are news stations that seem to offer more political slants than news reporting. There are talk shows on TV and radio, studio panels, and debates. There are forums, message boards, news articles, and blogs that each offer people a platform to provide their take on anything. There is social media in an abundance of formats that gives people the opportunity (good and bad) to publicly share their reactionary thoughts. Opinions are everywhere.
Do we know where our information is coming from? Do we even know what they are saying is true? Do we even care?
I have seen countless articles posted with comments where people only read the headline and assume it is true. Other times, people hear something from a friend or source and spread it like wild fire without even knowing its validity. This is how rumors are spread, accusations are made, and feelings get hurt.
It is easy to take the easy way out with our information. We pick a quote that someone gives, and without context, spin it to advance our own agendas. We rush to judgment without knowing the full story. We create assumptions without hearing all of the facts. This is the world we live in.
To me, this boils down to trust. Many of our personal views are shaped and expanded because we learned them from people we trust (teachers, parents, coaches, etc.). We believe people because we have no reason not to. They have not let us down before so what they are saying now has to be true. Conversely, we tend to believe less information from people we do not know.
Take this blog, for example. Aaron and I provide information every day that is our opinion based in our own personal life experiences or stories that we have picked up from other places. People can read our posts, and see the words and believe them to be true. Part of the reason could be that you trust us so you instantly value the information. Part of it could be that you trust the people we talk about or have heard the story before, and thus, choose to believe it. Perhaps, someone shared this blog with you and you trust them. So, you read more. (Note: We agree with these lines of thinking, and we strongly encourage you to continue reading and sharing our blog posts.
My challenge to you is this:
Do your homework. Ask questions. Take the time to know where the information you read comes from (whether it be the person writing it or the topic covered). Find the appropriate context. And most importantly, do not take anything you read personally.
Right or wrong, it is always just someone else’s opinion. The sooner we are able to think for ourselves, the more intelligent and informed our dialogue can be.
Bring your best today!