I think skepticism gets a bad reputation for being unnecessarily critical and cynical about the future. Skepticism does not mean pessimism. In my mind, showing skepticism is in fact healthy.
I like to think of this “skeptic to initial acceptance” spectrum on the extremes. Would society be better if everyone naively accepted the status quo…or would it be better if everyone rejected everything at first glance.
Both extrema are in fact dangerous situations for society. We need a combination, a harmony of factors to bring about ideas, innovation, and change the future for good.
If we are too critical, people will be afraid to try. If we are too naive to accept, then perhaps we begin to believe everything – fake news, etc. without having a strong point of view.
The reason I bring this up is because I have been thinking more and more about how an individual processes information. From the time you begin to hear a thought or idea, how long does it take for you to form an opinion. As someone striving to become a better and more active listener, I am trying to better understand my “default state.”
I think, especially in the past, I have been a very defensive person. I really respect the truth…and I want the truth to persist! So, in general, I am wary of truth-breakers. But the reality is that most people are very far from the truth and are instead painting a picture of ego. I reject those ideas…the sales pitches…etc. Filtering signal from noise is a very valuable skill that I believe will become increasingly important as the world’s systems continue to become more complicated.
This mentality that I have though is not always a strength. You need a bit of naïveté and charisma to make change in the world. What you need, in my mind, is pragmatic optimism. I do not think things should or will be easy – but I do think most anything is possible. And I am determined to exert my world view such that I can affect the things I care about.