We’re going to do a mental exercise in understanding the differences between assumption, disagreement, and catharsis today. This may be emotionally taxing and may involve reading opinions you vehemently dislike, even ones you hate. Take a deep breath, take a moment, to allow yourself to accept this aspect of the exercise. I am even taking deep breaths myself as I type this, so know that if this type of exercise makes you nervous, you are not alone.
Ok, deep breaths taken. Heart rate steady. Mind open. Let’s begin.
First, I want you to post an unpopular opinion you have in the comments below. It can be about anything, politics, food, religion, whether to wear torn jeans or not. Anything you have an opinion on which you consider unpopular. You don’t have to throw in links, or citations. Use your own words, not those of another person. Say it yourself in a way which sounds convincing to you. Try to explain yourself clearly, calmly, and rationally. If you want to maintain your anonymity, feel free to do so. This is not a post for calling out other people.
Second, I want you to respond to others’ posts – but you can only reply ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’. This is a hard line rule for this thread. I will delete any responses to posts which say anything but ‘agree’ or ‘disagree’. I will delete any unpopular opinion posts which are obviously just trying to respond to an earlier post in the thread. Fighting is not the point of this exercise. “Explaining” why you disagree is not the point. (If you see such a post, ignore it. I will notice it and delete it. Do not feed the trolls.)
Third, I want you to write about your own feelings and reactions to this whole exercise in your own space, privately. In a journal, in a note on your computer, something like that. A place where you aren’t trying to be witty, or PC, or popular, or avoid backlash. Somewhere where you can sit alone with your own thoughts and feelings.
Really think about what you are reacting to, what you are feeling, why you care (or don’t), what you think they are saying, what you think you are saying, etc. Do this with opinions you disagree with. Do this especially if you agree with an opinion. List your reasons, list your feelings, think about them, critique them. List what you think their reasons are, what their feelings are, but try to note your stereotypes, assumptions, etc., along the way. Imagine how you would see and understand your words if you didn’t know yourself.
Take your time. Take days, if you have to. Return to your notes and examine them again. Remember that every person posting an unpopular opinion is a human being with a life as complex and nuanced as your own.