The Crisis of Conflation Part 2

Conflating Fact with Opinion, Judgment, and Assumption

We cause hurt & harm by conflating facts with opinions, judgments, & assumptions. To relate safely we need to discern between facts and the stories we tell about each other because much of our conflict is actually based on our stories rather than what is true.

Safe relating asks us to discern opinions from truth. If a person makes claims about another without or beyond documented facts, then they're sharing an opinion that is based on their back story and biases. Opinions contribute to supremacy culture when we believe an opinion is superior to the facts (like anti-maskers) and/or other opinions. 

Judgment is often a superiority stance. We make judgments about who is right and wrong and why based on our personal values and ethics. Many of us believe our values/ethics are the right ones and we're justified in condemning those who believe differently as wrong. But we aren't safe to be with if we believe we're superior to anyone else for any reason, even ethical ones. No matter our ethics we're all capable of causing harm and dehumanizing others. We equalize in our relating when we all admit to this fact and hold ourselves accountable to it. 

Assumption is a more subtle superiority stance. We make a lot of assumptions based on little info and then believe we can act on those assumptions with impunity. We're constantly telling stories about other people and we tend to believe our story is superior to their reality. We often assume we know other people's minds based on their actions.  We often assume people are making deliberate or malicious choices and rarely assume it's a mistake or misunderstanding. We assume all accusations are true and take action against people without knowing the facts or hearing the other side of the story. The first person to tell a story is almost always believed to be the truthteller, regardless of the facts, so we need to be careful about assuming absolute truth in every story we hear.  

Judgment and assumption are as much an issue in interpersonal relationship as online interaction. Which is why safe relating and accountability processes are based on facts rather than the stories we tell about each other. We can't actually know why our relating partner or a tweet writer did something until we ask them for the reason. Spend a day analyzing everything you read and watch through this lens and you’ll see most conflict both real and fictional is about the stories we tell about each other rather than the factual things that happened.

The antidote to this conflation is intimacy. When we intimate and talk things out, we move toward mutually understanding what is true and what is story.