It’s 2020 and everyone seems to have an opinion, but have you noticed most of the time one opinion rules them all?
Whether it’s championing Apple’s superior products, buying one car over another, or certain cliques voting for a president, most social situations seem to be ruled by one opinion - the majority. This is a phenomenon Farnam Street has penned “The Spiral of Silence”
In its most recent article, The Spiral of Silence is defined by societies tendency to form collective opinions around loaded topics. If we think our opinion is popular, we have no problem voicing that opinion. If, however, we feel our opinion will be unpopular, we’re less likely to voice that opinion. We’ve all experienced that one person who goes against the grain with their ideas or thoughts and how they’ve become an outlier in society - the “weird” kid.
This doesn’t apply to all opinions though, only unpopular, controversial ones. If an opinion is unpopular and uncontroversial, like someone thinking pecan ice cream is the best flavor, then most people will voice that opinion. What people have a hard time discussing is the unpopular, controversial opinions such as those surrounding gun violence, abortion, or racism.
The spiral starts by never voicing the minority opinion, no matter how many people truly believe it. This can start small, until the majority opinion a group of people seem to believe in isn’t the actual opinion anyone agrees with. People are just too scared or unwilling to voice the minority one, even if that’s what everyone truly believes.