I’m not as smart as I think I am.
I have several opinions that are stupid, based on misinformation, sloppy analysis, or ideological bias. I don’t know which ones. If I did, perhaps I’d adjust or eliminate them. Perhaps I’d cling to them stubbornly, refusing to admit that I’m wrong. Either way, I’m pretty sure that I’ll develop new stupid opinions. Even Einstein was wrong sometimes. I’m not Einstein.
I have supported some of my opinions that aren’t stupid with misquotes, untrue facts, and inaccurate statistics.
I have opinions about some things that nobody needs to hear. There are some things that are not worth having an opinion about.
Some of the actions I advocate will inadvertently make things worse.
Writing instructors urge the authoritative voice. That voice implies certainty. Whenever I assert certainty, I’m usually hiding doubt. If I’m not, I should be.
At least one thing I’m absolutely certain of is dead wrong.
I have at least one belief, shared with much of the human race, which future generations will consider as ignorant as “the sun revolves around the earth.”
Humility seems obsolete. When I see humility, it’s often a strategic pose.
I don’t assume a story is true because it validates my ideological bias, nor do I assume a story is untrue because it doesn’t.
If I were outraged about everything people think I should be outraged about, I wouldn’t have time to eat or sleep. My blood pressure would be through the roof.
If I took a stand every time I was urged to take a stand, my legs and back would give out.
I can count the number of times I’ve changed my mind in the middle of an argument on the fingers of zero hands, yet I’m always annoyed when I can’t convince others to instantly change their minds.
Most of my friends agree with me politically. Whenever I spend time socially with people who disagree with my politics, I am always surprised to learn they are not the spawn of Satan. I know people who agree with my politics who make me want to pull my hair out.
Preaching to the choir bores me. I wish I could say that, given a choice between an essay that echoes my opinion and one that challenges it, I often choose the latter. I don’t.
Often, when I read opinions that disagree with mine, I look for the most extreme so I can mock it.
Last week, I read an essay online that I thought was smart. I posted a comment, not to praise the writer, but to mock a negative reader’s comment. I regretted it immediately. I realized that I was only posting it to feel morally superior to someone for a few minutes. That doesn’t seem like something a morally superior person would do.
I have never had a memorable conversation in my life conducted at high volume or with a sneer on my face. I have had conversations at high volume or with a sneer, and I regret them all.
Sometimes conversations at high volume are necessary for progress.
Some stories that are in the news today are untrue or grossly exaggerated. I don’t know which ones. I could make a guess but some of my guesses would be wrong. A couple of the stories that are untrue will be stories that I wish were true.
If I could go back in time, I would learn that our history books are filled with misinformation, both major and minor, because we’ve always been careless about documenting things.
Some of the rumors and allegations I hear will be proven untrue. Even if they will be proven true, there is no need for me to rush to judgment, though sometimes I do.
Some people I was convinced were guilty of heinous crimes were later exonerated. I have not forgotten that I once wanted their heads on a platter.
I have said at least one thing recently that might have offended you. I will say something in the near future that might offend you.
I have laughed at jokes that might have offended you. I will do so again in the future.
At some point, I have had an unkind thought, or uttered a catty remark, about every one of my friends and family. I assume every one of them has had an unkind thought, or uttered a catty remark, about me. I deserved some of them. Even if I didn’t, I forgive them.
If they planted a chip in my brain that converted each of my unfiltered thoughts into a 140-character tweet, I would lose all my friends by the end of the first day.
Sooner rather than later, in an attempt to sound witty or smart, I will say something off the cuff that mangles my meaning and makes me sound like a jerk. When someone points this out, I might respond by calling him a jerk. We might both be right. Or neither.
Years ago, I argued with a girlfriend about a historical fact. I retrieved an almanac to prove her wrong. Not surprisingly, the relationship didn’t last much longer. Nobody likes know-it-alls.
Sometimes I say or do something that contradicts something else I said or did.
Even when I know the right thing to do, sometimes I will do the wrong thing.
I call myself compassionate but sometimes I take pleasure in another’s misfortune.
There are things that have no value for me. That doesn’t mean they have no value for others.
I wrestle with my conscience a lot. I resent writers who presume to wrestle with it for me.
If I am exposed to less snark, I won’t feel culturally deprived.
I will say something snarky today.
If the first paragraph is characterized by contempt and derision, I probably won’t read the second.
I have written first paragraphs characterized by contempt and derision.
I have written blog posts and comments that took a lecturing tone. The number of people whose minds were changed by my lecturing is probably less than one.
The person lecturing me probably has things on his hard drive or search history he wouldn’t want me to see.
When I read a memoir, I assume 25% is untrue or grossly exaggerated. If I ever write my own memoir, you can assume the same.
The other day, I was writing something about a time in my early twenties when I was a major film buff. I included a story, which I’ve told numerous times, about a Saturday afternoon forty years ago when I saw three movies, one after the other, on the same block in Manhattan. I remembered two of the films but it had always bugged me that I couldn’t recall the third. I remembered that The New York Times has old editions scanned on their website, so I got the bright idea to check their movie ads for that week. I discovered that my story was a crock. Not only had I never seen any of the other movies playing on that block then, but one of the two films I did remember was playing in a completely different part of town. It’s a trivial story, but it bothers me that I can’t trust my memory.
It seems that, on the Internet, stories have to be awful or extraordinary to garner attention. Very little of real life is awful or extraordinary.
When I read a story online that seems either awful or extraordinary, I suspect it might be a hoax. I’m right about that a lot.
I read a lot of clickbait stories that can be summarized as, “Hey, look at this asshole!” I assume that some of the subjects of these stories aren’t really assholes.
If anybody cared enough to hack into my emails, they could easily make me look like an asshole.
At least one person will read this and think, “Fuck you, asshole.”
I’m imperfect. I try to remember that everyone else is too. I don’t always succeed.