It’s a form of self-inflicted blindness.
And it does more harm than good.
So I avoid having – and giving – opinions like the plague.
For about a decade, I used to receive a bunch of mainstream media publications like the NYT and the WSJ. It was a perk at work.
But I never read the “opinion” and op-ed pages. Then, as now, that’s where you’d find the most deranged echo-chamber drivel trying to pass for whatever else.
In the rare event that one in 100,000 opinion pieces makes sense, it’s usually irrelevant to everyday decisions.
Zero reasons to waste attention.
Because of my background, friends and relatives off Twitter sometimes ask my opinion on major life decisions such as buying a house or switching jobs. Twitter folk seek my opinion on so many subjects and so frequently that you wouldn’t believe it.
And they are often outraged when I say I don’t have opinions on their pet subjects.
An opinion is a mental pattern ungrounded in evidence. It’s typically the offshoot of some deeply embedded preconceived notion.
Even if it isn’t, all it does is make the mind resistant to new information.
Whatever its basis, opinion is a cost without a benefit.
Authentic, impactful, decisive action is driven by authentic knowledge, desire, instinct – not by shallow opinion.
I’m yet to see compelling evidence that opinions are anything but a deadweight cost to me, so I make a deliberate effort not to have any.
And it does take deliberate effort to unlearn the habit of having an opinion about everything.
What surprised me along the way? That even more effort was required to resist people’s attempts to make me have an opinion.
Because lo-awarenes loix have opinions on everything regardless of relevance or information. And one of the hallmarks of being lo-awarenes is the tribal expectation that other people are like you.
When people tell you not to be selfish, you’re being asked to indulge a selfishness of theirs. Figure out what it is and use it to your advantage.
But, you may ask, can’t you be unselfish for a moment and formulate an informed opinion on something other people care about?
That would be foolish. Even more foolish than having an opinion for its own sake.
People will ask your opinion so they can then abuse your politeness and waste an hour of your time bloviating on the subject. To show how clever, informed, educated or whatever else they aren’t.
People will ask your opinion so you can validate things they’ve done. Or to invalidate their insecurities.
Here’s the twist on that.
Insecurities cannot be “invalidated”. You have to do the inner and outer work to discard them. No opinion can do that for you. So I won’t waste my time and yours giving you one.
People who ask your opinion are often looking for an opening to attack you. I’ve been attacked for NOT having an opinion, remember? That ought to speak for itself.
People will also try to trick you into getting invested in their choices, but without any real choice or skin in the game for you.
People will ask your opinion to co-opt you into doing their mental work for them or shift responsibility for decisions they’ve already made.
What use is my opinion if you’ve made the decision? Thanks, but I have better things to do.
Arguing over a foregone conclusion is even stupider than arguing for signaling purposes.
So what do I do when people try to foist their nonsense on me?
I ignore emails, phone calls and messages.
You left me a voicemail? – WTF is a voicemail??
If opinion-seeking takes place during facetime, I give none or refuse to acknowledge the request altogether.
Yes, it’s that simple.
Shrug. When pressed, shrug again. Try not to laugh, unless there is good reason to embarrass the opinion-seeker publicly.
This can be great initiation practice for dealing with verbal assault of any kind. Just standing there and saying nothing.
Let the opponent defeat oneself, then have a laugh about it in private.
It can be very entertaining and it helps build stamina.
More importantly, it signals to everyone present that you won’t have your time wasted. It’s a subtle form of public savagery. And public savagery can save you a lot of time and spare you a lot of headaches.
Some days ago someone asked my opinion on a $100,000 business decision, which could have significant impact on that person’s life.
I trashed the email without responding.
The question was asked in earnest. But I won’t be dragged into taking responsibility for someone else’s decisions without skin in the game.
Of course, there are many instances where I find myself in the position to be useful to someone.
Helping people is the very reason I took to Twitter, but it takes two to tango all the way to results. So, I have to be very disciplined in selecting the people who can be helped and the conditions in which I can be of use to them.
How I know them and what I do in those cases is worthy of another missive – or several.
If you find value in the daily missive, consider putting some skin in the game and becoming a supporter on Patreon. Do it as commitment to your own advancement, not for the exclusive benefits that patrons get.
Here’s the link: https://www.patreon.com/startupdaemon.
Now go forth and conquer!