People say I think I’m always right. It isn’t a fair statement. I’m not always right.
But, I assume a grain of whatever is being thrown out is wrong.
Because, I’m a contrarian.
The definition is a little broad and not functional, but it gets the point across. Like many others in the world, I’m compelled to point out the flaws in… well, everything.
Contrarianism—the philosophical belief that the majority opinion is flawed—isn’t popular.
People don’t like us.
It’s baffling. Why wouldn’t you want someone to point out the flaws in your logic, beliefs, and core principals?
That’s not sarcasm, either.
Being wrong is human. Perhaps even our defining trait. We make mistakes and assumptions. We’re also herd animals, so we conform. Sheer probability suggests we are conforming to the wrong thing.
If we don’t point it out, how can we evolve as individuals, societies, and as a species?
But, being a contrarian is hard. It’s lonely, alienating… isolating. When your instinct is to contradict, well, anything, you offend and hurt the people around you.
Yes. I’ve hurt people and I don’t like it.
As Elizabeth Svoboda wrote in her article Field Guide to the Contrarian:
“While contrarians often see themselves as righteous defenders of truth, others may experience them as crotchety pot-stirrers.”
To be contrary, I don’t see myself as either.
My philosophy is simple. Any belief worth having—scientific, theocratic, moral, or philosophical—is worth defending.
I am uncomfortable with unchallenged assumptions. Agreeing to be agreeable makes my skin crawl. The more important a decision—a subjective qualifier—the more anxious I am about relying on tradition and long-held belief.
It can trigger an anxiety attack.
This isn’t a bad thing. There are benefits to being the voice of dissent. You can build an entire career on identifying all the ways something can go wrong. Steve Wozniak’s voice of dissent is why we have almost all of our modern technology.
But, my mind keeps coming back to all the feelings I’ve trampled because I have a compulsion to disagree.
I need to find a balance.
One thing I can do is continue to channel my inner troll in a positive and constructive manner. It is the original core of my blogging. It’s the missing passion.
I don’t have answers. The extreme downside of contrarianism is it only ever leaves us with more questions. Maybe questions are enough. Maybe I should try answering some.
Who knows? I might find out I’m wrong.
Tags: Belief, challenges, contrarianism, friendships, philosophy, Writing