In any discussion of a controversial topic, it’s easy to fall into a with-us or against-us mindset. Often times when someone proposes a topic (or a Facebook video proposes a topic…) and presents relevant facts to support one point of view, it seems that we must immediately decide if we side with them or against them. And since you were given facts that support one side, that side seems like the obvious choice.

Besides, you can’t really ask a question or propose a counter-argument to a Facebook video, and your friend, who is obviously passionate about the subject, might be insulted if you imply that they haven’t considered every angle of the subject. And, anyway, you’re too busy finishing up a research paper on Milton’s secret life as an underground EDM DJ to research what is happening in the world right now.

So you side with your friend or accept that the video must be true and move on with your day.

I would argue that this is the worst possible outcome. While your friend or the video might have performed some research on the topic, you did not. Your opinion was formed by a single entity outside of yourself.

While it might be hard to leave these situations without an opinion on the topic, I believe that would be a better ending to the story. Having no opinion on a subject means you’re still open to arguments on both sides (a state that we all should never leave anyway but is easier to maintain when you have avowed no loyalty to one side of a debate).

Your friend might mistake your neutrality for indifference and you might have to make plans to avoid Facebook videos, but these things should not stop you. It’s your brain, so don’t let it be influenced by something that you have not critically examined.

Your brain, your thoughts, your opinions, the words you say: these things are you. You wouldn’t let someone or something change you without your express permission, so why do we think that we have to decide what we think based only on the input of one person or video?

Ultimately, having no opinion on a subject is better than believing something is right or wrong without having done your own research. It’s a challenge to maintain this state, but it’s something we are called to do in a world in which we are surrounded by both an uncountable number of opinions and an uncountable number of fact-based resources.