Do Like-Minded People Truly Exist?

20130208-001941.jpg

I was sitting in a coffee shop daydreaming and minding my own business, but somehow I overheard someone say, “I only like to be surrounded by like-minded people.” This comment was made a few days ago, but for some reason (maybe the attitude behind it) it has stuck with me. I know it should be pretty self-explanatory, but I still wonder what that person meant. To be thorough, and just to get it out of my head, I looked online on The Free Dictionary for the meaning of the word and this is what I found:

Like-minded
adj
agreeing in opinions, goals, etc.
like-mindedly adv
like-mindedness n

Not to make too fine a point of it, but being surrounded by like-minded people all the time is my personal definition of Hell.

From a writers’ standpoint, if I surround myself only with people who think the same way that I do, from where do I pull the color and the human interest for my stories? Certainly not from people just like me. I want to write about people that are braver and darker and more-worldly than me.

From the standpoint of a daughter, sister, etc., if I were concerned with surrounding myself with only people like me, I wouldn’t have a family. My father is Republican and also a Christian, both things that I admire greatly, but that do not fit my world view by any stretch. I spent the better part of my teenage years driving my family crazy with my demands to be Vegetarian, and have driven certain family members to drink with my choice to tattoo myself in my young adulthood. Family is tricky, and no one family member fits into the tiny box like-mindedness requires, and thank goodness for that. I love the random mix of people that I am proud to call my family, and I would hope that they feel the same.

As a person, I would go so far as to say that I go out of my way to seek out people who’s world views differ from my own. I am fascinated with what other people think and with what has influenced them to reach those conclusions. I recently was accepted to sit on an editorial board for our local newspaper, and I have been thrilled with the experience so far. The variety of topics we discuss and the amount of knowledge that each of my fellow members possess is exhilarating to me. The best part of it is that we don’t always agree with each other, but we are still respectful of each others’ opinions.

Perhaps these are the reasons why the random woman’s flippant comment bothered me so much that it stuck in my brain, or maybe it is because I can see what she doesn’t – no one person has the same influences and experiences as another, so in essence there is no such thing as a like-minded person.

8 thoughts on “Do Like-Minded People Truly Exist?

  1. I understand the sentiment. It can be quite stressful to be surrounded by people with whom I don’t have anything in common. After I time, I just want to go find someone that understands me. My inner child can only take so much. Raising a child has been pretty character building all by itself.

    • I definitely understand where you are coming from. It can be extremely frustrating to be surrounded by people who think differently (especially when they are all in agreement, but that’s another blog altogether). I think my main point is just that being open to people who think differently is not only healthy, but necessary for survival. Personal growth doesn’t start by seeking out yes-men.

  2. Megan, I love this post – and for the most part, agree. For me, the burden and frustration occurs when the interaction between differing opinions lack thought and civility. I’ve met people who are the equivalent of talking to a brick wall – or people who are just filled with some much rage and hatred that their thoughts are nonsensical. My tolerance disappears pretty fast in those particular situations. But overall, it’s so interesting and enriching to interact with people of different experiences and backgrounds. What we learn from people can be pretty amazing!

    • I am with you Von. I definitely feel a lot of frustration when people don’t approach life with the same open mind that I try to. I see no reason for ignorance and hatred, but I find it helpful to agree to disagree with people who approach life this way. Overall, I find that I learn more from people who think completely opposite than I do those who think the same. If nothing else, they open my eyes to new possibilities.

  3. I really enjoy this post, Megan. It’s exactly the sort of contemplative loop I get myself into at the slightest remark by a stranger. I love that you allow so small a thing to spur so much good thought.
    It does occur to me, from a meta standpoint, that your post is essentially disagreeing with someone who is not like-minded to you… 😉 Do you find yourself able to feel grateful for narrow-minded people’s viewpoints, as much as you are those with more open minds (like the folks at the editorial meetings)? Certainly, your post is a testament to how valuable this person’s contrary opinion was to you.
    I find that non-like-mindedness only usually works in harmony if it is mutual. Perhaps that’s stating the obvious: people who are rigid in their opinion are unlikely to engage in a dialogue of discovery with people who don’t share those opinions. But… doesn’t that mean that, at some level, these non-like-minded people (who are open to dialogue) are exactly like-minded? Hmm.

  4. I think you definitely raise a valid point. My irritation with this woman’s statement shows that I am definitely not perfectly open minded. I find that people who I feel are purposefully ignorant really bother me…of course, it is simply my opinion that they are ignorant and they could very well feel the same way about me. I think that in situations like that it is important to try to understand where the other person is coming from, even if they have no interest in your point of view. People who are open-minded even if they don’t agree are definitely like-minded in that regard. I guess I usually try to lead with the idea that we are all just trying to do the best we can with the information we have and the life tools we have been given (or have acquired). I also have a “live and let live” mindset. It helps me to have compassion for other’s points of view, even if they do not match my own.

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Do Like-Minded People Truly Exist?

20130208-001941.jpg

I was sitting in a coffee shop daydreaming and minding my own business, but somehow I overheard someone say, “I only like to be surrounded by like-minded people.” This comment was made a few days ago, but for some reason (maybe the attitude behind it) it has stuck with me. I know it should be pretty self-explanatory, but I still wonder what that person meant. To be thorough, and just to get it out of my head, I looked online on The Free Dictionary for the meaning of the word and this is what I found:

Like-minded
adj
agreeing in opinions, goals, etc.
like-mindedly adv
like-mindedness n

Not to make too fine a point of it, but being surrounded by like-minded people all the time is my personal definition of Hell.

From a writers’ standpoint, if I surround myself only with people who think the same way that I do, from where do I pull the color and the human interest for my stories? Certainly not from people just like me. I want to write about people that are braver and darker and more-worldly than me.

From the standpoint of a daughter, sister, etc., if I were concerned with surrounding myself with only people like me, I wouldn’t have a family. My father is Republican and also a Christian, both things that I admire greatly, but that do not fit my world view by any stretch. I spent the better part of my teenage years driving my family crazy with my demands to be Vegetarian, and have driven certain family members to drink with my choice to tattoo myself in my young adulthood. Family is tricky, and no one family member fits into the tiny box like-mindedness requires, and thank goodness for that. I love the random mix of people that I am proud to call my family, and I would hope that they feel the same.

As a person, I would go so far as to say that I go out of my way to seek out people who’s world views differ from my own. I am fascinated with what other people think and with what has influenced them to reach those conclusions. I recently was accepted to sit on an editorial board for our local newspaper, and I have been thrilled with the experience so far. The variety of topics we discuss and the amount of knowledge that each of my fellow members possess is exhilarating to me. The best part of it is that we don’t always agree with each other, but we are still respectful of each others’ opinions.

Perhaps these are the reasons why the random woman’s flippant comment bothered me so much that it stuck in my brain, or maybe it is because I can see what she doesn’t – no one person has the same influences and experiences as another, so in essence there is no such thing as a like-minded person.

8 thoughts on “Do Like-Minded People Truly Exist?

  1. I understand the sentiment. It can be quite stressful to be surrounded by people with whom I don’t have anything in common. After I time, I just want to go find someone that understands me. My inner child can only take so much. Raising a child has been pretty character building all by itself.

    • I definitely understand where you are coming from. It can be extremely frustrating to be surrounded by people who think differently (especially when they are all in agreement, but that’s another blog altogether). I think my main point is just that being open to people who think differently is not only healthy, but necessary for survival. Personal growth doesn’t start by seeking out yes-men.

  2. Megan, I love this post – and for the most part, agree. For me, the burden and frustration occurs when the interaction between differing opinions lack thought and civility. I’ve met people who are the equivalent of talking to a brick wall – or people who are just filled with some much rage and hatred that their thoughts are nonsensical. My tolerance disappears pretty fast in those particular situations. But overall, it’s so interesting and enriching to interact with people of different experiences and backgrounds. What we learn from people can be pretty amazing!

    • I am with you Von. I definitely feel a lot of frustration when people don’t approach life with the same open mind that I try to. I see no reason for ignorance and hatred, but I find it helpful to agree to disagree with people who approach life this way. Overall, I find that I learn more from people who think completely opposite than I do those who think the same. If nothing else, they open my eyes to new possibilities.

  3. I really enjoy this post, Megan. It’s exactly the sort of contemplative loop I get myself into at the slightest remark by a stranger. I love that you allow so small a thing to spur so much good thought.
    It does occur to me, from a meta standpoint, that your post is essentially disagreeing with someone who is not like-minded to you… 😉 Do you find yourself able to feel grateful for narrow-minded people’s viewpoints, as much as you are those with more open minds (like the folks at the editorial meetings)? Certainly, your post is a testament to how valuable this person’s contrary opinion was to you.
    I find that non-like-mindedness only usually works in harmony if it is mutual. Perhaps that’s stating the obvious: people who are rigid in their opinion are unlikely to engage in a dialogue of discovery with people who don’t share those opinions. But… doesn’t that mean that, at some level, these non-like-minded people (who are open to dialogue) are exactly like-minded? Hmm.

  4. I think you definitely raise a valid point. My irritation with this woman’s statement shows that I am definitely not perfectly open minded. I find that people who I feel are purposefully ignorant really bother me…of course, it is simply my opinion that they are ignorant and they could very well feel the same way about me. I think that in situations like that it is important to try to understand where the other person is coming from, even if they have no interest in your point of view. People who are open-minded even if they don’t agree are definitely like-minded in that regard. I guess I usually try to lead with the idea that we are all just trying to do the best we can with the information we have and the life tools we have been given (or have acquired). I also have a “live and let live” mindset. It helps me to have compassion for other’s points of view, even if they do not match my own.

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