We can get opinions from anywhere.
The ubiquity of information means that not only can we comment or opine on anything, but it's easy, and even widely accepted to do so.
It's rather understood that if you put a statement, issue, opinion or action out there publicly, you are tacitly inviting commentary and opinion on same. (And if you choose to close your comments, that must mean you're closed minded to others' ideas, right? Anti-social? I think not.)
The more you share information, the more it's reacted to. Sometimes you ask for opinions directly, but other times you don't. Is simply publishing content of any kind an implied solicitation of input? Is that the price of being an unfettered publisher of ideas?
And when that happens, how do you figure out who to listen to? When you should put stock in something, and when not? When do you take heed of the stuff that's not necessarily easy to hear, the criticisms that have merit, and when do you chalk it up to noise? Can you let any of the accolades act as a barometer either, or are they mostly empty, sycophantic ramblings? How to distinguish?
If you ignore it all, are you narrow minded? A snob? Or judicious about what input you entertain?
I've been called a snob for socializing with familiar faces in smaller groups instead of mingling among massive crowds. (There are reasons I don't like crowds much). I've been accused of being elitist because someone offers an unsolicited opinion of what I'm doing wrong, or what I should write about, or how I should do my job, and I've chosen to do differently. I've seen friends, colleagues, and complete strangers come under fire for not responding in the way people want them to.
Should I care what you think?
The answer for me comes back to a constant: Trust.
Maybe more than just trust. Maybe it's whether it feels like someone's being thoughtful, or just asserting an opinion. (Julien Smith once gave me great constructive feedback about talking too fast in my speeches. What made me take that to heart?)
Maybe it's whether that relationship feels like it has a reciprocal investment. Maybe it's whether I have a sense of that person's integrity, and their motivations for saying something in the first place.
For me, I've found a few ways to tap small groups of trusted advisors in my universe (thank you, Google Wave) for the kinds of questions I'd honestly be afraid to put out there in the public. The ones that show vulnerability or uncertainty on my end, that might give away the fact that I'm not made of armor. Or the ones that have a lot more to do with where I'm driving toward next.
I've found it amazingly helpful to have forged a few trusted affinities. They help offset the influx of impromptu commentary that's much harder to filter.
But I've still got lots of questions about the expectations we're setting for each other here. I'm as social as the next person, but that doesn't mean everything I do or say is up for debate. Several people have been quoted as saying "What other people think of me is none of my business."
Or... is it?
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