“It’s a fact. That’s true!”

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These days we hear a lot about “alternative facts” and jokes about “the truth”, coming from the circus in the US. We laugh because we know that there can only be one true fact about something. You can’t have alternative facts. A fact is a fact. And a truth is a truth. Based on the facts most of the time.

At the same time we know how facts and statistics can be used in any possible way, depending on your purpose. Which facts you choose to report and which ones you omit. I’m a little bit troubled when I see how the different news channels, without even trying to hide it, clearly choose the facts that they think make the best “news”. How will the audience be able to see the big picture and be able to make their own opinion about what’s going on if they never get “alternative facts”?

And who decides what the truth is? Is it the conclusion someone at the news desk draws from the chosen facts? Is it something we have been told for generations or always done in our culture without questioning it? Can you make a reference to a god and immediately everyone has to believe that it’s a truth? Is it true because it’s the latest scientific proof?

I think that most of us want to live in a truthful way. So how come that we have so different ways of looking at the truth? It bothers me to use the word “truth” since that immediately implies that the opposite, or even the slightest deviation, has to be untrue or false. As if there only exist one good, true side of each opinion or action.

In honest, deep discussions I find that most people agree that everyone wants to be good and truthful, but how come that we too often completely forget that and look at actions and beliefs of people on “the other side” as if they were stupid, less intelligent than we? If I believe that my opinion is the truth, how can I accept that their opposing opinion is just as true? Not just true to them (no wondering since they are stupid?!), but actually as true as my truth.

I don’t say that we should be passive and just accept actions and speech that we find wrong, but I think it’s of great value to the overall development of societies, if we start by trying to figure out how it can be true in different ways to different people. Only then can we grow and continue the discussion on a higher, more developed level.

Is conversation different in mixed groups?

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The other day I suddenly realized that I live in a very female dominant environment nowadays. I have always been working in very male dominant companies, but now I’m not working and most of my friends whom I spend my days with are women. My husband is almost the only male I talk to! Is it different? Hmm. When I start to think about it I can notice that it’s very comforting talking to women. I don’t really have to think about what we’re talking about. The atmosphere of bonding, relaxing in the friendship is the most important. But if occasionally a man joins the group I get the feeling that the conversation is suddenly more focused. Why is that?

When I started my first job at a small, newly started mill with five men at the office and eleven men in the factory they had already worked together for some months. One day the six of us at the office decided to have an after work; bicycling in the forest, having picnic and drinking Gammeldansk. While we were resting and chatting in a meadow one of my colleagues said “It’s so good that you began at our job – now our conversations at coffee break and lunch are so much more interesting!” I laughed and wondered if they had only been talking about women and fast cars before. “Oh, I wish we had, but we mostly talked about what paint to use when repainting the house or which new tires to buy. Nothing really interesting.”

Is it so, I wonder, that both men and women tend to relax and pay less attention to the dynamic and the actual topics in the conversation when they are in a homogeneous group, but get more alert when the group is mixed? I have no idea at all, these are only my thoughts for the day! Don’t get me wrong – I often have fantastic conversations with my girlfriends, but then we are usually aware of the fact that this was something different from the everyday chitchat. Maybe the awareness that women’s everyday chitchat is different from men’s everyday chitchat makes us meet on common ground, where we both have to listen to the other part and his or her interests, which makes us more focused.

Then of course comes the question if “focused” is actually better than relaxed and comforting? Is it more intellectual or more important or just more of a compromise?

Or maybe it’s just the way I am? I would really like to hear your thought on this subject! Have you had the same experience?