Pizza or wings? Beach or mountains? Questions I’ve been asked on dating sites. Some people use these questions to judge another person’s personality. While these questions seem harmless and fun they can actually propagate a very limiting style of thinking that can keep us from living our best lives.
Binaries (like pizza or tacos) are an extreme. There is no way to tell anything of value about a person by what they choose. And we should not be judging someone on their answer.
Having people choose between two different items stems from our environment. In our society we are forced to chose a side regarding cultural issues such as politics, abortion, etc. And so we have become accustomed to picking a side. We identify ourselves with the side we chose and we associate ourselves with people who pick the same side. We can find ourselves arguing with a complete stranger on the internet who does not share our same belief.
The problem is, these topics are too complex to only have two sides. Having only two sides to choose from limits our need to critically think, and stops us from finding a solution to the issue. It can cloud or judgement. It can place us in the same category as an extremist. It can keep us from feeling connected to others. It can block us from new experiences. It stops us from inducing long lasting change for a better tomorrow. And worst of all, it silences open and healthy debates.
Healthy debates encourage human innovation and personal growth. It gives us the opportunity to learn a different perspective, and it can encourage us to connect to others. A healthy debate is formed when people are able to discuss a topic and not take it personally. Without the ability to have a healthy debate, we can get tied up in a topic and feel personally offended if someone does not agree with us.
While we should advocate for social issues, and encourage the betterment of society, with extremes and binaries, we are now just advocating for our person choice. We are advocating for our own ego and we lose sight of finding a helpful solution. We focus on trying to prove we are right and the other is wrong. It is a never ending, time sucking, depressing cycle.
We should make ourselves aware of extremes and the bad habits they can create. We can chose to openly express how awkward they are and not to partake in them. When we are asked to chose a side, in lieu of stating what side we agree with most, we should acknowledge the complex topic for what it is, state that there are more than two sides, define our ideal of what we would like to see happen and try to discuss a creative solution.