Cynicism is a cop out

posted by Jeff | Thursday, December 12, 2019, 10:38 PM | comments: 0

I think there's reason enough to be cynical about, well, everything, given the current political climate. We have a president who asks a foreign government to influence the election and people who defend it, people treat science as if it were something to believe in and seemingly everyone who aligns with a faction is a victim. It's exhausting.

But I think that cynicism is the easy way out. It requires no commitment, no action, no accountability, no further conversation. It's a cop out.

Professionally, I've seen this more times than I can count. One gig in particular, I remember a guy who was cynical about everything we asked him to do, as a means to improve the quality of his work and the team's as a whole. He didn't try it, had no alternative suggestions. It's easy to write something off when you don't participate. It's like people who believe that voting doesn't matter. When enough people are apathetic, assholes get elected.

Or look at the completely bizarre backlash by full grown adults against the 16-year-old climate activist, Greta Thunberg. Even if for a moment you think that judging a teenage girl on the autism spectrum is constructive or OK, it's fairly insane to write her off as a self-serving attention whore. I don't even know how you get to be that cynical, let alone forget how everything is a high alert emotional issue when you're 16.

There aren't many personality traits that really put me off, but cynics are the worst. Mind you, there's a difference between cynicism and healthy skepticism. The latter likely means that you're willing to at least consider a scenario, not blow it off and refuse to engage.

I think it's reasonable with age to become more pragmatic, but also self-aware enough to see that everything is subject to nuance. Most people, it seems, instead get more ingrained in their thinking and shut off themselves to new input. Cynicism is where your open mind goes to die.

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