I've noticed a rather disturbing trend on the internet. Everyone is open-minded. OK, well, some people would say that's a good thing. Everyone's trying to be understanding, right? I guess on one level it would be good, except that it's mostly people saying they're open-minded simply to avoid flames. They have strong opinions about stuff, but are afraid to express them because they're afraid of flamers.
The question I have is why?
Everyone has opinions. I think a lot of people adopt that 'open-minded' facade because they're afraid. I just don't understand why. I mean, it doesn't matter what you believe. There will always be people who disagree with you. And yes, some of those people are very nasty and like to belittle and flame others to make themselves and their opinions more important. So why are the opinions of those kinds of people so important? The answer is, they're not. Do you really want to structure your beliefs and opinions around the approval of idiots? I certainly don't. I refuse to fall into that trap.
"But you say you're open-minded! What's the difference?"
Yes, I do try to be open-minded. However, my mind is not so open it falls out in the floor every time I turn around. When I say I'm open-minded, I mean that I approach a new situation and try to learn about it before I make up my mind. I don't let the opinion of one person influence me. Now, I may end up thinking the same way as that one person. But what if they don't have a lot of the facts? What if their opinion is based just on what someone else said? I prefer to learn about something before I make up my mind. That's really what being open-minded is: refusing to prejudge something or someone just because of what you've heard.
Being open-minded also means that you recognize that someone else's opinions sometimes have just as much validity as yours. Let me give you an example of this. I have a friend online that has very strong opinions. And yes, we disagree about a lot of stuff! We've had numerous talks and emails about our opinions in anime, and we've finally came to the agreement to disagree. I know I'm never going to convince him of my side, and he's not going to convince me. But we both realize this, and we both realize that each of our opinions has validity. I respect his opinions, even if they don't follow mine.
I think a big part of this is because he does form his opinions carefully. He's not just pulling them out of some unsavory part of his anatomy. He has his opinions, but they're based on facts and how he interprets them. That's the key to actually putting your opinion up somewhere. Yes, you can say I-believe-such-n-such, but why? What reasons do you have for that? If you can't think of any, then maybe you should rethink that opinion. If you just say that because everyone else does, that's actually pretty far from open-minded. If you think two characters from an anime should be together, ask yourself why. Is because they look cute together? Or is it because you think they're actually a good personality match. A lot of people watch anime and just watch the surface. They want to watch mecha being blow up or cute shojo hearts. Then they go out and make a webpage about how two characters just look sooooo cute together or how cool a Gundam is because it blows stuff up. They never take the time to actually watch the characters and try to figure them out. OK, granted, there is anime that is supposed to be a surface series. But I think that's one of the things that annoys me about anime fandom in general. People have opinions based on what everyone else in their little group says, and they often don't take the time to look deeper and try and understand the characters. And then, armed only with the backing of their friends, the embark on crusades to convert everyone to their way of thinking! Woo hoo! No one expects the Anime Inquisition! [/sarcasm]
With that in mind, I just have a bit of advice. First of all, don't be a sheep. Think for yourself. I know, generally, people are intelligent. However, when you put a group of people together, they turn into sheep. Very easily led. This annoys me to no end because a great many wars have been fought by sheep, including flame wars on the Internet. One person gets an idea, convinces others that s/he's right, and off they go! If people would just stop to think about things and form their own opinions, based on facts, those wars would probably decrease dramatically.
Second of all, be willing to discuss. I said before that everyone has an opinion. A great number of those opinions will differ from yours. That is not an invitation to start a holy war. If you think someone is wrong, ask they why they think what they think. Start a conversation where you can present your side, and be willing to listen to theirs. After all, if they've taken the time to form their own opinion as well, that means they broke from the herd too. They might actually have uncovered some fact you didn't know about.
My last bit of advice is once you've formed your opinion, don't close your mind right afterwards. Opinions change as time goes by. New facts are presented. Your outlook on life, or your world view, could change because of something personal that happened to you. In order to keep yourself from falling into a rut, you have to keep thinking. That's one of the reasons I like discussions a lot. I get to present my side of an argument and rehash what my opinion is. Sometimes, someone has said something from their point of view that made me rethink my opinions on something. You have to constantly reevaluate your opinions. Otherwise, you still become a sheep. Granted, this probably isn't as important in anime. After all, anime isn't everything. (I shall now pause while you recover your breath. ;) But if you start doing this about something small, like anime, eventually you'll get in the habit of it. You'll start doing it when you're talking about politics, or even religion.
That's when you can say you've started to become open-minded.
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I agree with you about the open minded issues now. I even admit to hiding behing the 'to each their own' phrase. But I also admit to loving a good debate. I have a small group of close friends, maybe a half dozen, who I like to discuss various things. One friend in particular likes to debate against me. We both start and end knowing we are friends, we have different opinions, and respect those opinions. But that doesn't mean we can't talk about them;p. To anyone who didn't now us, it would seem like we were using the 'calm, cool, whoever blinks first or raises their voice looses' kind of rules. We even worry our friends sometimes. But in truth, we just enjoy seeing all angles of a subject, and it takes two people to do that. We have spent hours discussing where the universe ends, if god exists, why social groups act in different patterns, and other things. If you ever want a headache, just ask me where the universe ends;) Then ask me again for a more rational explination.
- Nanashi Kage Enjeru(Nameless Shadow Angel)