Most of the conversations I've had over the summer have been dominated by opinions.
How Covid should be managed, the US presidential election, the terrorists (or patriots, depending on what you believe) storming the US Capitol.
At times I've firmly presented my case, sometimes disagreed with fervour, and sometimes sat with a blank look on my face, totally disengaged. Once I told my husband that I didn't feel the need to ever see a particular person again. I'd hazard a guess that feeling was mutual.
It got me thinking though. Would living in an echo chamber really be so bad?
If you haven't heard that term before, it's defined as, "an environment in which a person encounters only beliefs or opinions that coincide with their own, so that their existing views are reinforced and alternative ideas are not considered."
Given that the state of affairs in the US right now has spilled out of the political arena and into everyday life, half of America is existing within one particular echo chamber. It's easy to do, given the outright political bias of their news channels and how easy it is to find like-minded individuals on social media.
I was reading Wendyl Nissen's book A Natural Year the other day. She summed it up with her style of forthright brilliance, "I'm just not interested in getting into a 'friendly debate' with a racist, misogynist, sexist arsehole. Full stop." She is my new hero. You could argue that by making this statement, she's choosing to lock herself within an echo chamber. I argue that she's doing the right thing.
I am very accepting of people having different opinions on things and living different lives, more so having lived in Los Angeles where anything goes and the general population is far less judgmental than here. But if people's opinions do not align with my core beliefs on subjects that are really important to me, then I don't see why I should entertain them.
If I am fundamentally in disagreement with someone, chances are they won't be listening to my reasoning and taking it on board either. Narrow-minded? Short-sighted? Or accepting of the fact that we have different opinions and I don't have to set out to make everyone think the same as I do?
Wouldn't that be trying to make everyone exist within my particular echo chamber? And who's to say that one echo chamber is better or worse than another? How accepting are we of other people's opinions?
When we are young we are told to respect other's opinions, but there is little education or discussion on how to manage opinions that make you feel fearful. Even less so when you become a parent and have to navigate these waters with an impressionable mind to consider.
I tell my daughter that it doesn't matter what so-and-so thinks, they are entitled to their opinion and what matters is what my child thinks. Am I unconsciously creating an echo chamber for my 5-year-old?
Or am I encouraging her to believe in her convictions, have confidence in her own ideas and to not be swayed by what someone else thinks or their actions?
Life. Parenting. Doing the right thing. What a minefield.