Here’s a mind bender for you:
Determining whether you are aligned with “mainstream thinking” has LESS to do with WHAT you think, what your ideas are or the content of your beliefs, and almost everything to do with HOW you think.
Determining if you are truly a ‘free thinker’ or someone who is simply being used and abused by false realities and incorrect narratives has NOTHING to do with how fringe or extreme your views are.
Your beliefs themselves don’t tell you if you are a mainstream or ‘counter to mainstream’ thinker.
Your WAY of thinking does.
Examples of "Mainstream" thinking:
- Black and white narratives - something is ALL good or ALL bad.
- Believing 1 source to be FULLY TRUE and other sources to be FULLY false.
- Believing that there is genuine order to this chaos somewhere - either a benevolent group/person who is going to save us all or an evil group that is fully calculating and in control of everything we see.
- Believing that there is a savior figure/group that’s going to make this all better.
- Believing that NO ONE knows anything and everything is just a lie.
- Believing you are in the ‘minority’ when you have 100’s or 1000s of people who believe the same things you do.
- Having a narrative that fits perfectly into a ‘group’ or ideology.
- Believing you KNOW something you have no first hand experience with.
- Believing you can trust ‘your sources’ based on ‘your research’ which is really simply you reading what people have said/listening to people. Again with no actual first hand experience of what they are talking about - and with those sources rarely having first had experience either.
- Doing a bunch of mental gymnastics to make whatever your favourite source of information just said MAKE SENSE - rather than being able to admit that while you agree with some of what they said, some things are clearly off.
- Believing that any message being delivered in a polarized fashion is real.
- You believe that your beliefs are facts.
- You believe your perception is infallible - that you have the capacity to always tell fact from fiction.
- Your version of ‘looking into the other side’ is looking at alternative perspectives purely from your current world view, thus disagreeing with anything that you don’t already believe, and looking to the other side purely to poke holes in what you think are their flaws. Nit=picking semantics or using a simple flaw in a detail as a reason to write the WHOLE argument off.
- You see people not as individuals but as being part of social groups/identities and you accept/reject them based on these external factors.
- You are unaware of the FACT that you have biases. You consider your view of things as being fully without editing.
- When you are presented with ideas that don’t align with your world view, you double down, deny, deflect and defend.
- If it’s not happening to you, it’s not happening.
- If they don’t agree with me, it’s always because they are just brainwashed/uneducated/unaware.
- Authority is ALWAYS right or ALWAYS wrong - no in-between.
- Your ‘alternative group’ mentality is different from those mainstream people and their group mentality.
- Often believing you are seeing malice rather than just plain ignorance/selfishness
- “Us Vs Them” thinking - there is a ‘good’ group and a ‘bad’ group. You are clearly in the good group.
- You see the ‘evil out there’ never the ‘evil’ IN HERE.
- You are your beliefs - anyone who questions your beliefs is ‘attacking’ you or your right to free speech/self expression. You know who the ‘good’ people are vs. who the ‘bad’ or ‘others’ are based on how much they agree or disagree with you. Questioning your beliefs is an attack on you. You defend and fight at all costs.
- You think in isolated incidents OR believe it is ALL connected in a large SCHEME created by a human.
Examples of NON-Mainstream thinking:
- Understanding that ALL issues are COMPLEX and multi-factorial.
- Understanding that NO ONE is saying anything that’s all truth or all lie - everyone’s perspective contains seeds of truth that need to be mined from the biases they hold.
- Understanding that the world is simply run by PEOPLE who have LIMITED PERSPECTIVES and personal motivations for everything that they do, which are based on their experiences. No one holds the truth.
- Being able to see both sides of an argument and how both sides have their truth and their deceptions - and being able to put those two narratives together to create a third, more complex narrative that actually explains what we are seeing.
- You recognize that you have NEVER seen an actual unbiased take of ANYTHING - everyone has their perspective and agenda.
- Understanding that anything that actually comes close to truth is NEVER polarizing - but rather is nuanced, complex, including all sides and generally isn’t very dramatic but rather very human.
- Understanding that all humans are just humans. Doing what they think they have to do to survive - some with higher levels of awareness and empathy than others - but no one is evil.
- You understand that while you may have lots of evidence to support your beliefs, until you have PERSONAL EXPERIENCE with something, it’s just a belief. You hold your beliefs lightly. You know that MOST of what you ‘know’ is actually a belief. Only direct experience = knowledge.
- When you are presented with something that doesn’t align with your current world view, you open to the seeds of truth that will add complexity and nuance to your current view.
- When you look to the other side, you do so with an intention to BROADEN your perspective, to understand why the other side believes what they do, and come away with NEW information every time. Even if that new information is just understanding why someone holds the perspective they do based on THEIR lived experiences.
- You understand human psychology and progression - seeing that people aren’t bad, but rather DEVELOPING. It’s all a pattern.
- You are very aware that you have a bias and you are constantly challenging your narratives and WHY you believe certain things over others.
- You OFTEN change what you believe, coming into more complex and nuanced viewpoints based on continually coming into new information.
- You see people as people, individuals with complex stories - not ‘us vs. them.’ You can hold everyone in their specific brilliance AND blindness.
- You know you are not the source of truth, and that some experts absolutely KNOW better than you do based on their experience - even if that information contradicts what you think you know.
- You challenge your sense of truth often.
- You understand that you can have an experience of something that is TOTALLY THE OPPOSITE of someone else’s experience and BOTH of you can be RIGHT. That this world is a different place of all of us and all of us have our validity. Just because something is or isn’t one way for YOU doesn’t mean it is or isn’t that way for others.
- You know you hold privilege and aren’t afraid to admit that and to look for where you can use that privilege to lift others up who don’t hold that same privilege. You understand that we are not all equal, and that we are not all treated the same within the systems we have created.
- You look at life as a both/and situation, aware that there is truth and lie in all perspectives.
- You know that the more sensationalized something is, the more information has been left out.
- Your instinct is to understand and empathize rather than defend and prove.
- You don’t conflate believing something alternative as making you closer to truth or ‘anti-mainstream’
- You’re focused on how you can be of service and benefit to your communities and real life - knowing this is where your power really is.
- You are continually working to find your own evil and bringing light to it, rather than looking for the evil OUT THERE to fix it.
- You don’t identify with your beliefs. You can have constructive conversations with those who do not agree with you - not seeing them as ‘other’ but just another complex human with other viewpoints.
- You think in SYSTEMS and PATTERNS, looking at the very reasonable reasons we are where we are, due to past events leading up to this. Nothing occurs in a vacuum or because people are just evil.
Fringe theories have gone mainstream. Mainstream has gone fringe. There is no more clear line between these things in content.
The true way to tell what kind of consciousness level you’re moving from, is the above list. HOW you think. The WAY you see the world at large. What SHAPES your WAY of taking information in.
THIS is how we move forward.