Why Opinions Can Be Dangerous

We live in a world inundated with news: New news, old news, real news, fake news, exaggerated news, good news, bad news. But the worst is opinionated news.

Imagine a world where news reporters reported the facts without editorializing or inviting a panel of “experts” to share their insights on what they think, believe, fear, or speculate. One-hour programs could be reduced by three-fourths. Doesn’t that sound heavenly?

To be fair, opinion givers don’t exist only in the news world. They’re all around us all the time. Parents quickly share their opinions with children who may be making decisions they don’t agree with. Well-intentioned friends throw in their uninvited thoughts about who we’re dating. Co-workers share too liberally how much they dislike the boss. A neighbor taints our view about another neighbor whom we haven’t even met yet.

Yes, everyone is entitled to their own opinions. I’m just not sure that every opinion should be shared. In fact, I think there’s a certain danger to sharing uninvited opinions. Here are four reasons why:

1. No matter the person’s level of experience or education, sharing uninvited opinions can cause confusion, doubt, and even discouragement. I recall a high-school graduate who wanted to pursue a career in medicine. When someone who had worked in that field for years heard about the teen’s decision, he gave her every reason why she shouldn’t pursue that career. One person’s opinion deflated the teen’s excitement and she went a different direction, squelching her dreams to be a pediatrician.

2. Other people’s opinions can exacerbate fear. Often opinion-givers throw out statements like, “My concern is . . .” or “What I’m afraid of is . . .” or “I’m worried that . . .” Someone else’s concerns, fears, or worries can be contagious. Keep them quarantined.

3. Other’s opinions can prevent people from thinking independently and logically. Granted, sometimes it’s easier to let others do the thinking for us. But, when we do, we rob ourselves of the benefits gained from healthy mental exercise. Why relinquish to others the benefits gained from thinking independently?

4. If we find ourselves adopting other people’s opinions without taking the time to form our own, we may be falling into the “I need your validation” trap. People-pleasing can stunt independence, emotional growth, and mental stimulation.

Keep opinions at an invitation-only level. This will guard you from awkward moments where you may have shared too much or too often. And it will protect you from unsolicited influencers.