When Is “Changing Your Mind” Actually Hypocrisy?
The moment you pick a side that you think “saves” your reputation instead of teaching you a lesson says it all.
I’m taking a break from my usual writing advice, although not to share my latest foray into poetry this time, but rather to voice my thoughts on an issue I witness far too often in everyday life and even here on the Internet: when people suddenly decide to change their minds despite being adamant all those other times.
Naturally, such decision making will more often than not stray them from the path to grandmother’s house and into the den of that dreaded old beast known as hypocrisy.
If your opinion gradually changes following a revelatory experience(s) and you’re open to discussing why you had to reflect on your thought process in addition to accommodating new knowledge, you understand not only the importance of unlearning destructive arguing styles but also critically examining information before embracing or simply acknowledging it.
On the other hand, wanting it both ways just because the opposing position suits you in that moment without clearing the air - or, at least, being honest about it - demonstrates that you are more concerned with claiming superiority and concealing your faults, especially if you normally judge other people for arguing in the same manner as you likely don’t wish to admit you do.
Having self awareness and realizing where your insecurities come from is crucial to resolving hypocritical tendencies. If you’re willing to compromise and respect that certain values may be more beneficial to others than to you, you’ll be able to reduce social anxieties and, ironically, allow differing voices to co-exist harmoniously.
Otherwise, you’ll be left with a warped perception of any topic you debate where it has to solely benefit you to some degree rather than considering it a learning - and even bonding - experience for your inner life and in social circles. Constantly being on the defensive or doing damage control offers no opportunity to cultivate social graces and develop nuanced opinions that help you genuinely sympathize with those you disagree with or subscribe to elements of ideas that do resonate with you.
In more extreme cases, you might realize you really were holding a dangerous viewpoint and understand that it must change immediately to avoid alienating or oppressing other people, especially in the context of minority and intersectional communities.
Vulnerability seems frightening at first, but it truly is the only way to connect with your peers and discover how to address everyone’s concerns without dismissing them when they bear no relevance to you or weaponizing them the second they do.
Gathering the courage to recognize your faulty logic enables you to feel confident in your ability to both present your case thoughtfully and internalize new ideas, because you’re unafraid to be proven wrong but also prepared to strengthen your critical faculties.
The next time you find your fellow debaters avoiding you or responding to your arguments - particularly if you’ve conveniently changed your tune - with hostility, consider the notion that feeling the need to be right about everything will never be as important as doing right by yourself and them by exploring the possibility that something is holding you back from the shared comfort of free expression in favour of controlling the narrative.
Remember why you were quick to support your position in the first place, as the memory might help you reveal the shortcomings of your thought formation. Being wrong isn’t failure if it gives you the chance to build your character and contribute to a web of insights we all can apply in our daily lives, our careers, and our impassioned threads on social media.
How would we have developed so many concepts if it weren’t for that?
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