Last week I went to see author John Green while he was on his book tour for Turtles All the Way Down. It was a fun night of emotional speeches, lectures from his brother Hank dressed as a turtle professor (really), dubious advice, and even music, but there was something Green said that really stuck with me.
John Green. Photo by Gage Skidmore.
At one point during the show, John and his brother Hank did a live version of their podcast Dear Hank & John. In between giving advice to teens, Green mentioned that he and his brother thought there were too many opinions on the internet; or rather, people seemed to have too many strong opinions for too many pointless things, themselves included. So, they decided to cut back. Green said that he was trying to let go of at least one useless opinion every day, and even dropped one right on stage (if you’re curious, he now has no opinion on professional wrestling).
I admit, it sounds a little silly dropping opinions on the spot, but it actually makes a lot of sense. The more opinions you have, the more time and energy you end up wasting to defend those opinions, and the more small amounts of stress you accrue. But the less you have, the more time and energy you have to focus on the deep opinions you have. Green said something along the lines of, “You have no idea how freeing it is to not have opinions about things,” and I have to say, after trying it myself, he’s right. I’ve dropped a few pointless opinions of my own now (I no longer have an opinion on pears, Fiats, Taylor Swift or the Assassin’s Creed series), and it feels great, like I’m gradually pruning my thought tree that’s long been weighed down by my desire to express myself or be “right”. In fact, every time I mindlessly scroll through my Twitter feed I’m actually hunting for opinions to drop, and stopping myself from screaming into the void. Eventually, all that will be left are my truest structural opinions that have shaped who I am now. Yes, all that will be left are the things that actually matter to me.
Make no mistake, I’m not saying opinions don’t matter. They do! I’m simply saying Green is onto something, and that we could all benefit from shedding a few useless opinions on which we’ve been wasting our time and energy. The internet would be a better place without them, sure, but more importantly, your life would be better off with such newfound focus. Give it a try.