You don't have to have an opinion

We’re living in extraordinary times. Instead of providing the millionth hot-take out there, I just want to assure myself and others that

Calm down. It’s okay to not have an opinion.

In most modern business environments, and especially in software, our livelihood depends on making wise decisions and convincing our peers on the effectiveness of our solutions. But this ultimately creeps into other parts of our everyday lives.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary gives a few definitions of opinion.

opin·ion \ ə-ˈpin-yən

Definition of opinion

1a: a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter b : approval, esteem

2a : belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge b : a generally held view

3a : a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert b : the formal expression (as by a judge, court, or referee) of the legal reasons and principles upon which a legal decision is based

In today’s information-heavy environment, we’re constantly bombarded, asked to pick sides, on way too complex topics, with limited information.

It’s okay to admit that we don’t know. It’s okay to admit that it’s outright impossible to have “positive knowledge” on certain issues, that we’re not experts and that we can reserve judgment for a later time. When an idea is formed in the mind, it’s way harder to change, even when presented with hard facts.

Humanity has worked on some questions for centuries, with people devoting their whole lives into making sense of our world.
It takes a certain amount of egoism to form a strong opinion after reading a social media post, a tweet, or a Wikipedia page at best.

I’m not suggesting that you blindly accept anything.

On the contrary, what I’m personally trying to achieve is

  • Keep few beliefs.
  • Get multiple sources, fact-check.
  • Obtain first-hand experience where applicable.
  • Make notes my own prejudices.
  • Make notes of the prejudices of the source.
  • Keep an open mind.

So, just keep calm, stay safe, and enjoy life!

Written on March 31, 2020