I realise that I haven’t really posted anything of much importance recently. In fact, for the past year and a half I’ve barely posted anything at all, and I feel like it’s about time I changed that.
My reason for not posting? Well, there have been quite a few reasons actually, which we could put down to ‘bumps in the road of life’, but I think that the main reason is that I originally intended this blog to be an expression of my thoughts and opinions on various topics, and yet I don’t really have thoughts or opinions on things any more.
In fact, I remember starting out by writing posts about contemporary issues, such as controversial news stories, and having my say on such matters. What I’ve found over the last few years, however, is that I’ve ceased to react to things in quite the same way as I used to. I used to be very opinionated, wanting to immediately express myself if I felt outraged by something. I don’t get outraged any more. In fact, I don’t tend to react much at all.
Why? That’s a really good question. I think it’s because I’ve had quite a hard time in the past, either with people not bothering to pay any attention to what I say, dismissing my remarks, or I’ve felt quite a backlash. When I find myself in a corner, forced to stand up, justify myself, and argue, I find I can’t. I’m not much of a quick thinker; I’m more the kind of person who mulls an idea over for a few minutes, hours, days, or even weeks before coming to any sort of conclusion. In an argument or debate, then, I’m not much good at all unless I know from the off exactly what I’m talking about.
I don’t think that’s necessarily a bad thing, though. One of the main things I’ve learnt studying philosophy is that you always need to make sure that your views are sufficiently justified. As such, I’ve learnt to not have an opinion on something unless I feel I am sufficiently educated about it. I don’t really have time to sufficiently educate myself about a lot of issues, so I don’t have a strong opinion on them. Further, I generally only express an opinion I do hold if I’m asked. I don’t usually feel the need to go out of my way to make sure every knows exactly what I think. I used to, but not any more. Nowadays I keep quiet until somebody expresses an interest. It’s actually quite rewarding, as in such cases I know that they’re going to be paying attention, and they actually want to know what I have to say.
Of course, there are a few downsides to the way I am now. One is that I’m often very quiet, and I guess that unnerves some people. I don’t think there’s much point in saying something just for the sake of it, so if I don’t have anything to contribute to a discussion then I’ll just keep silent. A related problem is that some people then think that I’m completely unopinionated, or apathetic to a particular issue, whereas I may just not have looked into it enough to form a valid opinion. Overall, then, I guess I get judged quite harshly at times, but something similar would undoubtedly occur if I constantly spouted nonsense. There’s probably a nice mean somewhere in the middle, but I’m not entirely certain where it lies.
Something else I’ve started doing is covering my back when I finally do speak up. Often people will ask me what I think about something that I haven’t really thought about before, and I end up trying to come up with an answer on the spot. As I’ve already mentioned, I’m really not very good at that, although I am getting better. A big part of being able to do that is to apply other knowledge you have to a specific issue. So, for example, I often apply various philosophical theories and principles to particular issues I’m asked about. What I then come up with isn’t necessarily my opinion, but it’s a way of looking at a situation. Then I cover my back by explicitly mentioning that I’m “only stipulating”, and I “might be wrong”. I do this because I realise that what I’m saying probably isn’t justified, so I can’t pretend that it is. This might come across as me simply speaking without any kind of conviction, and I guess to a certain extent that is what I’m doing. Perhaps I need to have more conviction in what I say? Still, it does no harm to be cautious…
So, I guess that’s why I haven’t really posted anything substantial recently: I have very little confidence in myself. I’m therefore looking forward to graduating, at which point I will finally have the opportunity to take some time off, do some research, and work out what I truly believe and why.