Think different

June 16, 2016

Regua, Portugal

“I have a high tolerance for people who think different,” I said to to a friend the other day, referring to someone we both know.

“So does he,” my friend responded.

No surprise. Some of the most interesting people I know are people with ideas outside the norm. People who think different and differently are often the people who change the world — for good or for bad. Which is why we should pay attention.

But our world doesn’t promote that. We’ve lost our tolerance for people who are different. Who think different.

We don’t entertain what might be behind a position, a comment, a thought.  We jump to judgment, instantly.

Judge and jury

This happened to me last year when someone I thought was a friend took offense to some of the things I’ve written. I’m not sure exactly what, because she wasn’t interested enough to ask me about it, except to make sure I knew that some of my positions didn’t adhere to her beliefs.

I was quite taken aback. I’m a pretty liberal girl, but I also hold some opinions, a few, that might not meet the radical liberal test. A very few, really.  Like for example, about unions. Which I believe once served a good function but are now corrupt and harmful.

But it wasn’t unions that made her abandon our friendship. And really, it doesn’t matter what it was, because the point is that she didn’t value the friendship enough to ask questions. Like, “what makes you think that?”  or even, “I was surprised to see you write that.”

I think deep down we all want to be understood, right? Or the chance to be understood, anyway.

Like horses with blinders

In today’s world, though, we can exist 100 percent of the time in our own little silos. We can pick and choose what slant we want to our news, avoid the other side and never once encounter a viewpoint different than our own.

This is not a good thing. Because:think-different

Yes, when we all think alike, no one is thinking.

Let’s take the presidential election.  Now, I personally think that Donald Trump is stupid and dangerous.  I do know some people who support him. They name call, just like he does and like him, they are simplistic in their thinking.  I think their opinions are stupid and dangerous. On the other hand, I get where they’re coming from. I hear their pain and frustration. I hear and see it all. It doesn’t mean I have to accept it, but I feel for them.  Of course, it makes me nervous that people holding their positions are going to vote and that our choices for president are pretty limited.  Nonetheless, I hear them, because I take the time to look beyond the name calling and simplistic ideas to the core: their fear.

The recent social media posts on the Orlando massacre really challenged me. One of my Facebook friends — a gun advocate — responded to comments on a post I did about gun control. His posts were borderline insulting to those who held my opinion and some might have thought there was no borderline about it. Most distressing was that he seemed clueless about the rude tone of his responses. Absolutely clueless. I monitored it all day and then thanked everyone for their courtesy and said I was going to delete the thread. But he couldn’t stand it–he had to reply to someone with yet another rude comment. As I deleted the thread I saw that the buttons he pushed in me were less for his opinion, which was definitely unlike mine,  than for the incivility in which he expressed it.  I just didn’t like his intolerance and inability to see another view.

The inability to see another view? That’s becoming the norm today. Hell, it IS the norm.

I love a happy ending, but…

This isn’t a political post at all. It’s a post about the fact that we are an increasingly polarized society and that a meeting of the minds is just about impossible today. On anything. Because few of us really take in the other person, the other position, the other side. Not in any meaningful way. We don’t even try.

I think it’s time we stepped out of our cocoons and really started to take in what’s going on around us, and especially reached out to understand those people who don’t think as we do.

Because if we don’t?  I don’t think this story is going to end happily.

Your thoughts?


41 comments on “Think different
  1. Robin Masshole Mommy says:

    I love this. We all have our own perceptions and live our lives differently. People just need to get over it and deal with the fact we are all different.

  2. Candy says:

    There should always be a discussion and different opinions.

  3. Kim S says:

    Too many opinions and it causes a lot of angst and hatred towards one another. We can’t be civilized anymore, that’s what I’ve learned. It’s just sad what the world is coming to. I understand we all have the right to our own opinion, but sometimes it’s just smart (and courteous) to keep some thoughts to yourself. This is a good post about being different and thinking differently. It’s what makes America what it is.

  4. Thank you, Kim S.

  5. Diane says:

    We need these differing opinions. We may not agree, but a different opinion helps us see another view and, maybe, rounds out our own view just a bit. My middle son said something the other day. I didn’t agree with him. But what he said got me thinking and changed my own opinion just a bit. We need that. We need each other’s minds. Thank you for this post, Carol. We need it . . .

  6. shari Eberts says:

    Great points. The discussion (done in a civil way of course) is what moves things forward.

  7. Roz Warren says:

    Well said! I don’t support Trump, but I’d rather talk with and try to understand the opinions of folks who do than dismiss them as idiots. And I think yo’re right about many of them — it comes down to fear.

  8. WendysHat says:

    This is very true. The world would be a very boring place with no new ideas if everyone thought alike. I think that more people need to learn how to discuss their ideas in a civilized way. Thanks for this. I also LOVE your picture quote!

  9. Kelly says:

    It’s the inability to have a nuanced discussion – conceding some points – and coming to compromise that just floors me. This polarization is so easy to fall into. I catch myself doing it and try to stop and monitor the urge to jump to the extreme side of my opinion. If everyone is shouting at each other, no one is listening. I have no idea what the answer to this problem is, except that I try to fight against it in my own interactions.

  10. Stephanie Ortez says:

    I got into an argument on Facebook about gun control as well. I try to respect everyone’s opinions, but you’re right, there are always those who push your buttons and triggered bad feelings. Staying away from social media helps somewhat, but with all these tragedies how can someone stay silent? I’m with you about Trump, the fact he could be our next president blows my mind.

  11. I shared many similar ideas this morning on my blog. I want to raise my young son to be tolerant and good. Nothing else. I want him to hear other people’s voices, regardless of what they have to say, and respond with respect and kindness, regardless of what he has to say. If we can’t teach our children to listen and actually hear what others are saying and what they mean, then there isn’t much hope for us. And that makes me sad.

  12. tara pittman says:

    I so agree! We need to change to end of the story now.

  13. Michelle says:

    Unfortunately, this is the times we live in. We seem to be able to speak our minds freely, but do we? Do we tolerate others opinions if they don’t line up with ours. I read many of your gun control comments when you posted and I never understand why some have to be bullies when expressing their thoughts on any subject. It is rude and leaves a sour taste where I can’t even continue reading. Ignorance on many levels. So I think we have a place in society where we should be able to voice our thoughts respectfully but also allow others the same courtesy. But some will never get it.

  14. Jonathon says:

    I agree with Robin, we are all different and the sooner we realize it, the better.

  15. If we really wanted to have a discussion, it would require thinking, expressing ourselves clearly and listening. If you try to understand where someone is coming from, it doesn’t mean you have to agree with them. Social media lets us hide behind our computers and say things we may not ever say out loud. All this shouting back & forth, name calling, my way or the highway, and political posturing doesn’t get us anywhere. But that’s where we are. Very sad. Your post is right on point, Carol.

  16. renee says:

    I just talked about this today. Since when did it change that people aren’t allowed to have a different opinion and why can’t people that don’t agree with that opinion just leave it alone…why do they have to spew such hatred….it is a very sad state of affairs…

  17. DoNna says:

    This has been my problem for a long, long time. One of the reasons I adore you is your ability to embrace people with different opinions and instead just love the person. You are friends with everyone. ❤️❤️❤️

  18. Sophia says:

    I like people who think different and embrace their individuality,

  19. I love people who think outside the box. I have taught my kids to question everything and never just trust anyone. People can be so narrow-minded.

  20. I always respect opinions and views of different people I encounter, the challenge has always been how to stick with people that has different views than you, which is very typical in every life we have.

  21. Elizabeth O. says:

    I honestly don’t know why we choose to condemn people who think differently. That’s where all great things start so why all the hate towards them, right? I don’t get it. I also don’t get people who are very close minded and do not want to accept other people’s opinions openly. That’s just sad and well, it’s really heartbreaking.

  22. Amy Jones says:

    While I do agree you should respect people’s opinions it’s still sad to see there’s a huge amount of people who have very closed minds and have really outdated ideas about today’s world. Sadly when I’ve tried to talk to them I end up getting on arguments and even breaking friendships. I guess that’s what gets the world going

  23. Patricia says:

    Great post! Going through life with blinders on is a perfect description of much around us today. Check out my post as well!! Touches on some similar ideas:

  24. Erlene A says:

    I think everyone should be allowed to express themselves and have their own beliefs. I don’t have to agree with it, but I’m not going to bash anyone for believing in something different from me.

  25. Lexie Lane says:

    Well, each of us can think differently. We never know where this different thinking will lead us. Just like our greatest inventors, if they didn’t think differently- can you imagine?

  26. Nicole Escat says:

    Sometimes, I am afraid to be different but I already make up my mind. I will be different and will do my best to achieved the great things that are waiting for me.

  27. cris says:

    As long as the world is lead by people that have the ability to see other peoples opinions and accept rather than using the ‘I don’t agree therefore you are stupid approach’… (Trump) we will be fine….

    Please America, don’t be that country!

  28. Nikki Jenner says:

    It is nice to think differently sometimes because we can all be creative when we think differently.

  29. This is so true and it’s killing our world. There used to be a time when we could compromise – especially in politics. We need to learn to do that again.

  30. Michele says:

    Some of my most frustrating experiences are when people refuse to think outside the norm. At work I used to get really angry with the attitude that this is how it’s done- because we have always done it this way. I challenged that frequently. There is so much polarization on Facebook, and sometimes I cannot understand how people blindly share things without realizing what the content truly is- or bothering to challenge any of it. I know someone who is a passionate supporter of both Trump and Bernie Sanders. Really?


  31. I agree that we all need to have our own thoughts and beliefs, but we should also let others have theirs as well, and be respectful of that!

  32. Liz Cleland says:

    I have always been drawn to people who thought outside of the box. Had some interesting corks about them that made them who they are. Having friends of all walks of life and ages really has helped ground me as a person and keep my life on track. Love this, truly!

  33. “When we think alike then no one is thiking” I like that a LOT. WHy? because we weer all created unique, in every way not even twins can think alike all the time and they are usually one half of a microscopic egg each lol. So that friend wasnt worth your love period. Thanks for sharing on the Pit Stop!

  34. Rosey says:

    I know people like that too… who have to have their rigid opinion heard. I think they like being shocking.

  35. I totally agree with you. We are all entitled to our own opinions.Doesn’t mean you have to force someone to think the same way as you nor does it mean you have to make rude comments. I don’t argue with people online.

  36. Beautiful post! I especially like that quote about thinking. So true!

  37. In my experience, most people who have lost friendship over beliefs is because of improper wording. The first person might have said his beliefs in a nice way but was possibly taken offensively. There’s always a right way to do anything.

  38. I really enjoy when I meet someone who thinks differently than me. It adds new perspective to my thinking

  39. Lindi Mogale says:

    How must better our interactions and relationships would be more fruitful if we just spend timeunderstanding other peoples view and where they come from

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