I’ve had reason to reflect lately on the difference between knowing what you think and thinking what you know.
A tongue twister and brain bender to be sure, but it’s really not that hard a concept to grasp. Most of us think what we know, we don’t actually know it. I say this because most of the information we absorb isn’t neutral fact, but rather disputed opinions and beliefs. I’m sure this is where the wisdom came from the concept of “taking it with a grain of salt” which to me always meant remembering that there’s room for error.
In no arena does my tolerance, or lack of, for this problem reach boiling point faster than in the social realm. It seems that some people have so much time and energy to waste that their entire existence appears to circle around the discussion of things they think they know about others. Perhaps this is the real definition of gossip. It may not always be intended to slander another or scar their reputation or name but the result is inevitable. It is the very spirit of rumor and mischief, of discord and strife.
Have you ever paused to listen to the way so many people speak today? Listen closely and I’ll bet you’ll hear what I hear. The absolute resolution in their voice is unmistakable. They often speak as if they were not only there when the event unfolded they are discussing, but they take on a film director’s role, doing all they can to ensure the proper level of emotion and interpretation are present during their story telling. Many throw in impersonations from facial expression to voice inflection throughout the dialogue. It’s astounding. Some people must have a lot more time than me or they have found a secret, time traveling transporter allowing them to pop in all over the globe to witness these stories and events.
Equally disturbing to me is the level of absorption from the listening party who takes in every detail as pure truth. Not only do they believe it completely, but if riled with enough passion they’ll quickly assume the ranks of story teller themselves sharing the same story to a new audience. It has to be one of the greatest vices of the human race. The wake of destruction is greater than that of any Tsunami or other natural disaster, yet the only tool required for success is a sharpened tongue willing to spread the disease. I can’t imagine any other force that can so swiftly or completely spread the work of destruction.
Every story is just that – a story. It is painted by the author and thus framed by the personal interpretations and character traits of the artist. Facts are seldom presented and even when they are there is so much cloud cover to sift through that they end up distorted. You may not be able to control what others choose to share, but you have complete control over what you choose to listen to, believe, and more importantly repeat. I think there’s wisdom in taking time to determine if you think you know something or if you actually know what you think.
And in review of my blog, this is a topic of which I obviously have a strong opinion! LOL