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Our Opinions - Are They Truly Ours?

Updated: Sep 8, 2021

Biden! Trump! Healthcare for all? Walls? No Guns? Guns for all? Constitutional precedent maintained? Constitutional amendments ignored? Are these men, their plans, and principles fit to lead you and your country? Who is the "right" political party for you to vote for? This is not a political post and I will also keep my political views to myself. In this post, we will explore the many different factors that build the complex network of your views and opinions.

He stared into the unwavering eyes of his Democratic counterpart, "Is it wrong for you and I to have differing opinions or preferences in healthcare?" asked Jameson R. Kaisonelle, Trump Campaign Supporter of NewJersey. "Of course not." Said Helen V. Linnt of California, also a Campaign Supporter but for the opposing party, Biden. "Then why is it that you are condemning the republican party in all of your rebuttals, as if we'd like nothing more than to watch people suffer?" said Kaisonelle. This is only a snippet of their debate last week and all of the subjects debated had a similar ending, one party seeming to blame the other party for their views and opinions. Both parties tried desperately to convince the other of their point of view as if that particular party believed that their opinion was "right" and the other party was "wrong." Why do we think this way? What is it that shapes our strongest opinions?

In an article regarding marketing and social media influence, Tim O'Brien says, "If you want to shape opinion, there’s nothing more powerful than shared experience. This becomes more difficult in a society fragmented by personal and individualized media, where 20 people on a subway car can be listening to, reading or watching a different media source. It becomes more difficult in a polarized society where two sides of an issue lack so much empathy for the other that even when they experience the same development, it turns out to be two decidedly different experiences, depending on which side you sit."

Based on the incredible research that O'Brien has published in this article and others, the truth seems to be that we have become calloused to the human experience. We don't necessarily seek to find the laws of human nature, or the laws of communication in the same way that we have sought to understand the laws of gravity or thermodynamics. As a society we seem to prefer our own opinions above all. Rather than seek knowledge we prefer comfort and familiarity. This makes it very difficult to see the world from another's viewpoint. Empathy is the name of the game! And media seems to influence the amount of empathy we have now days. Do you feel this? :-) ... How about this? #happy... Oh! And this! (Insert Happy Photo)

Aww, everyone is always smiling on social media! It's a great feeling!... Is it?

Nothing is completely real or realistic in media - (especially "Reality TV Shows").

All media seems to be purposed in commercialization. Social media is hardly any different - just branding ourselves every day.

Is it possible that this over exposure of fake emotional expression is part of the callousing effect mentioned by O'Brien? Whether you're reading/following a friend, public figure, or company, your emotions can and will be manipulated by their content - a synthesized human experience via media created to influence your thoughts, decisions, and opinions.

In a post by the Association for Psychological Science, regarding a study by Dr. Erika Siegel, the writer explains, "Our emotional state in a given moment may influence what we see." According to findings published in Psychological Science, Siegel and colleagues found that influencing people’s emotional states outside of conscious awareness shifted their first impressions of neutral faces, "making faces seem more or less likeable, trustworthy, and reliable." This is an interesting experiment to consider - that our "views" may be mostly based in emotional connections, or the way we "feel" about someone/something. We cannot necessarily conclude that all of our moral, political, economical, or religious views and opinions are solely dependent upon emotional relevance within our respective experiences, rather than facts, shaping our worldview, and thus, our opinions.

However, as we continue to read about this study, the writer says, "In this research, they wanted to see if changing people’s emotional states outside awareness might actually change how they see the neutral faces... Siegel and colleagues add that their findings could have broad, real-world implications that extend from everyday social interactions to situations with more severe consequences... Ultimately, these experiments provide further evidence that what we see is not a direct reflection of the world but a mental representation of the world that is infused by our emotional experiences." It becomes abundantly clear that our hippocampus has almost everything to do with our opinions, which ultimately influence our most basic and most complex decisions. From voting for a red or blue candidate, to picking out our clothes in the morning; from "comfort foods," (so aptly named), to the careers we chase, all of these and more result in a pattern of behavior based on our inability to solve the most evasive, subconscious riddle of perception on a daily basis - welcome to being human.

What you think and what I think may be totally different, but we're probably both wrong, so let's stop arguing and go get a coffee.

Thanks for reading! Ramzi Elassadi








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