I was watching a business network the other day and almost every investor on the show claimed to be a "contrarian."
What is it called when everyone says they are a contrarian? Answer: Consensus.
But I look back at many of the times I needed to feel like I was "right" and searched far and wide for people to agree with me.
I don’t know how many times I have seen a movie I really liked, yet still felt compelled to read the critics’ reviews afterwards to make sure I wasn't missing anything. If I already knew I liked the movie, why did I need to confirm that others did as well?
Likewise, I have attended shows and clapped at certain points simply because people around me were clapping. Was I just trying to be part of the group? Or was I afraid that if I did not applaud, it would reflect negatively on my ability to appreciate the show?
I have been part of a standing ovation at the end of a musical for no other reason than because others rose to their feet before me. Similarly, I have stood immediately at the end of a play to communicate my pleasure and awe, yet still felt the need to pressure others to stand with me.
Perhaps it is due to my own insecurities and lack of knowledge, but having my opinions validated is a powerful motivation to fall in line with what I view as the consensus.
As is often the case in a world of "Ubiquitous Relativity," an issue arises when we cannot understand why someone else could see the same movie or go to the same play or look at the same painting in a museum, but disagree with our assessment of its merits.
So I try to fight my instincts and appreciate the reality that what is a great piece of art in my universe may be a terrible piece of art in someone else's universe. And most importantly, that one is no more right than the other. Not easy, but I believe worth it.