Facts do not change because they make you uncomfortable.
Living in the age of information also means we are living in the age of disinformation.
While I often stay neutral on my social media, I feel that the time has come to stand up for the one thing we should all be able to agree on: The truth.
The ability to disagree civilly in our society seems to be deteriorating by the day. We skirt over important issues because discourse devolves to devastation.
Here’s the thing though, you cannot disagree about verifiable facts.
You may have heard about 9-year old Quaden Bayles, who is constantly bullied for his Dwarfism.
His mother posted a video recently of Quaden saying he wanted to kill himself because it had gotten so bad. She says this happens often and she wanted to show the world.
There has been an outpouring of support around Quaden from celebrities and supporters who have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars for Quaden.
But since this is the internet, no ground can be left untorched.
There are claims floating around that Quaden is actually an 18 year old actor who is scamming people for money. Of course, his mother’s social media shows Quaden as an even younger child just a few years ago.
But let’s entertain the idea that maybe Quaden is an 18 year old con-artist.
There are only two choices:
He is a 9 year old bullied boy, or, he is an 18 year old actor.
It is either one or the other.
One of them is true, one of them is false.
You also may have seen a meme floating around saying Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders has proposed a 52% tax rate on anyone making over $29,000 per year.
This is either something Bernie Sanders is, or is not proposing. (Hint: He isn’t).
But, pointing out the claim is factually untrue should not be controversial.
It is not a statement of opinion nor is it a political position.
I have personally been blocked by 7 people in the past 2 days because I pointed out the inaccuracy, while remaining neutral and loyal only to the truth.
The people who blocked me will very likely continue spreading the false information after being shown it is false.
This risks more people being exposed to it and believing it, despite no evidence.
But this isn’t just about bullied children or political policies.
This is about how we make decisions that affect our own lives or the lives of others. It is about how we educated our children and how we educate ourselves. This is about how we move the world forward through science, research, and progress.
This is about how we interact and engage with each other.
This is about how we prevent our societies from imploding.
This is about how we choose our political and social leaders.
The truth is something we should all be able to stand behind. It does not care if it makes you uncomfortable. It does not care if you “disagree,” which is impossible anyway.
The truth does not care if it doesn’t line up with your worldview. If your viewpoint is constantly being challenged by the truth, perhaps you should question why you are holding on to an opinion that has been shown to be false.
We all need to be willing to shift positions based on evidence and fact.
If I believe something to be ‘true,’ but I am shown that it is false, why would I continue holding on to a debunked belief?
Why would I not want to embrace and absorb what is true and right?
Cognitive dissonance is a feeling of stress that occurs when you’re being presented with information that conflicts with your existing opinions.
Many people will feel this trigger and pull back into their comfort zone with people and information that does not challenge them. This is why we get blocked or deleted on social media when we do not blindly agree with misinformation.
New information is seen as a threat to our very SELF if our self is rooted in our beliefs.
What if we are wrong?
What if we don’t have it all figured out?
What if everything we’ve been told to believe has been a lie?
Instead of running away from this possibility, we need to run towards it. To be curious and inquisitive and passionate about learning and living in the most unbiased reality as possible.
This is how we build an even fuller life because we are not tied down by preconceived notions or “this is what I’ve always thought.”
This is how we learn and grow.
There is no shame in being wrong, only in holding on to false information once you’ve been shown it’s wrong.
If we tie our identity to always being right, we will stunt our own growth and progress.
If we tie our identity to learning, though, that is how we become limitless.