The whole and its parts

The whole & its parts

Having an opinion

Almost all the automatisms people use can be brought back to the necessity to survive. That humans have not evolved as fast as the environment they have created may be a curse, but who knows?

The ability to focus or concentrate requires dedication and practice. What it does, is overcome the ability to pay attention to any distraction that occurs. Smartphone users rely on this warning mechanism when using their phone’s ability to signal new messages, new videos, new information, or to remind them of appointments, or other things they want to be reminded of.

The ability that builds on it, is to quickly analyze such input to decide if it is a danger or not. Many of us have expanded this security feature with the ability to immediately like or dislike something or even have an opinion about it. One could even say that social media is a training partner. Scrolling through the news feed people assign likes or use images and headlines to make sense of a post. That speed often is aligned with the speed expected from leaders when it comes to decision-making or helping teams to make sense of a situation. Not knowing has become difficult to tolerate, and leaders are being used to dissolve this anxiety.

The often prevailing sense of urgency emphasizes the desire for an immediate answer, however, opinions have been questioned for much longer. The Stoics even saw opinion as the source of most misery.

When opinion is based on one’s automatism’s, it serves as an immediate reaction to a situation. In such cases, an opinion will most often be more of a judgment than an evaluation. Or said differently, more of a surface understanding, than of an in-depth understanding of things or situations.

That is where humans today find themselves confronted with much more opinions “to have” than our ancestors. With as much information constantly available to us, there are almost as many opinions to have. It is impossible to work out in depth for everything. And yet, in day-to-day conversations, that is often what we believe we are asked to be able to do. Just like leaders, who are supposed to know, we seem to constantly push others to know or have an opinion as we engage in a variety of conversations with them. And if it isn’t pushing others, opinions seem to serve us to push subjects aside we think we understood and don’t have on top of our priority list.

Taking the time to either engage in sense-making conversations or discover the subject in more depth is left to rare occasions or subjects of deep interest.

It’s a system in which there is not much space left for curiosity. Where opportunities only appear and become real to those who seek to understand the system in depth.

That’s maybe also why call-to-action buttons seem to be necessary today. They are used to overcome the inertia of having an opinion without the clarity of a sense-making process that crystalizes a decision.



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