I never feared turning thirty nor put any emotional value to this age, as it’s really nothing but a number. But then I actually turned thirty… Even though I still feel the same and convinced myself that wrinkles give me that classy look, I somehow became more observant. Or was I just in denial before, unwilling to give into my intuitions and admit to my observations? Somehow, my first holiday as a thirty-year old has changed my perspective and I can no longer look at people in the same way, or at myself for that matter.  

It started with an innocent trip to the zoo. Seeing these beautiful and strange animals, whether they were birds, antelopes or cats, all looking like pieces of evolutionary art. But then I also saw the creatures on the free side of the fence, and I had a little out-of-body experience. I became aware of my fellow humans who were, unlike the caged animals, not a pretty sight. Their bodies all of a sudden seemed odd to me. Standing upright with their arms hanging beside their plump bodies. A concentration of fat around the nipple area, and bulky bellies with no tail to outbalance them. The humans around me were hairless, except for a patch of excessive hair growth on top of their heads. The heads were sized out of proportion, with noses that stuck out, and a skin that displayed an array of colourful sunburns, pimples and rashes. Sexual selection clearly wasn’t favoured during human evolution. 

When I came home, I tried to shake my thoughts off and recover faith in human aesthetics by watching movies starring the Collin Farrells and Scarlett Johanssons of Hollywood. But soon after I went to an entertainment park, which didn’t do much good regarding this matter. The many day visitors were no treat to the eyes, and I was often stuck in queues with people who did the exact opposite to my eyes. Again I pictured those majestic tigers, colourful parrots and fluffy tamarin monkeys, wondering where it all went wrong. But it didn’t just stop there. I became aware of the ridiculous situation I found myself in. There were about 150 people standing in line to sit in a little train that went up and down a track. Everyone was waiting for the duration of an hour, to get a little rush of adrenaline that lasted no longer than two minutes. And that’s not all we do outside working hours for entertainment, this is only the beginning. 

We most commonly involve ourselves in sports, either out of social desperation or to rid ourselves of excess weight caused by consuming food items so unnatural that our bodies are incapable of digesting them. After eating potato chips and sugar cones, we go out to get exercise in ways that can also be considered somewhat unnatural. We run for hours to return to the very same place and call it jogging. We move limps under the weight of water and call it water aerobics. We sit on mats to bend our bodies in impossible ways and call it yoga. And we lift objects so heavy that our muscles can hardly support them and call it weight lifting. In nature, these activities would be a complete waste of valuable energy, and evolution would have filtered this nonsense right out. 

But we have outsmarted evolution by domesticating animals, cultivating crops, storing water supplies, building houses, and inventing means of transportation. These days, we only have to walk from our doorstep to our car to get to the nearest shopping mall. We have made sure that even the very weakest will survive. The downside is that we have become spoiled, overweight and bored. And boredom has a hold on us, as we seemingly do anything for some entertainment in our corporate, westernized and digitalized lives. We jump out of aeroplanes with a parachute, climb up walls only to descend again, and hit balls with a golf stick so far that it can take up to an hour to find the damn things. People have also made a sport out of cars, by driving down impossible terrain or in endless circles. We also run in circles, or wear ice skates while doing so, and jump over high obstacles, and throw heavy discs as far as possible, or slide down snowy mountains. Just to kill time or see who does it the best. 

Humans who aren’t fit enough to run or jump tend to avoid boredom in other ways. They throw darts at a board trying to hit the highest number, fill in numbers on a piece of paper in hopes it’ll match somebody else’s, or throw numbered cards on a table in a variety of ways. People also take jigsaw puzzles apart and mix rubik's cubes up, just so they can return them to the original state. Some collect miniature trains, others list all the bird species they see in the wild, and yet others dive into a digital world full of dragons, fairies and Pokémons. 

Some humans get bored with their own bodies and dedicate their time to getting as skinny, tanned, or muscled as possible. These people even gather on stage sometimes to compare their lack of body fat or excess of muscle tissue. There is a tendency to focus on clothing during these little get-togethers, specifically on the fabric, shape, colour variation, and person who designed the costume of choice. There are often hundreds of people who spend their free time to go look at these people on stage, while clapping their hands to make noise whenever they get the chance. 

In addition to slim bodies and stylish outfits, people also cheer up their ugly appearances by putting make-up on, ink in, and metal through their skin. Some people wear so much make-up that it’s hard to tell their ethnic origin, or have tattoos so numerous that they start looking like lizards. Others put piercings through their gum, or even their private parts, for reasons yet unknown. People sometimes even jam metal hooks through their skin so large that they can hang from them, called body suspension. It’s not uncommon for these people to do it publicly as well, and they’re not shy to hold competitions either. 

And it gets more bizarre. Humans consume things that were never intended to be consumed, either by swallowing, smoking, injecting, or snorting it. Just to feel a bit happier, crazier, or more relaxed. It was boredom that led to the invention of these drugs, and chronic boredom that led to excessive consumption at the cost of people’s own health. Many people choose drugs over basic needs in life, such as nutrition, sleep and sex. Not everyone though… some people rather solve their boredom by having freakish, totally unnatural forms of intercourse. The way in which some people have misunderstood sex has shocked me to the core. Absurd role playing, disturbing fetishes, violent bedroom rituals; let’s rather not go into detail. We surely got some explaining to do when intelligent, alien life forms find our planet… 

Suddenly, I get snapped out of my thoughts as it is finally my turn to hop in the seat that will make me go up and down, and do a few loops and flips along the way. After these exciting few minutes I go home. First, I watch a little story on a screen about somebody else’s life. Next, I put some metal objects through my ears, hang some beads around my neck, apply some dark lines to my face, and make my eyelashes look bigger than they are. I’m meeting a friend and we normally do little more than sit at a table, while drinking alcoholic beverages that make our brains feel funny. When I come home after hours of endless babbling about nothing memorable, I cuddle my bunny; a little being that probably doesn’t even recognize me and has no recollection of me feeding him every day. I go lie in bed to read a story about yet another person’s life. I’m either too drunk to admit that I’m just the same as all those other ugly and bored people, or just too young. Maybe I’ll be ready when I’m forty.

 

Nothing ruins a career quicker than a sex life, and nothing kills a person’s sense of humour faster than a marriage. Studies have gone to waste and talents have been lost over our obsessive need to find a life partner. We are simply designed that way, programmed to commit, settle and reproduce. We want to fall in love and believe it will last, even though it rarely does. We hope for laughter to never to end, but it likely will. We expect unconditional devotion, yet reality might be far from that. Happiness is hard to come by, especially in a relationship. The most sparking romances inevitably end up in boredom, discontent and suppressed rage. Even so, we can’t help ourselves from getting involved in one.  

Multiple factors are influencing our romance mania. To begin with, married people are generally better liked because they raise the illusion of being caring and giving. Single people, to the contrary, are falsely accused of being socially unskilled and selfish. Society also tends to look down on single or childless people based on the fear that their behaviour is too unpredictable for their own comfort. Religion has imprinted us with some more cultural constraints, and shaped our ideas on premarital encounters for the worse. The Bible and Koran even encourage the death penalty for extramarital disloyalty, and adultery is still a criminal offence in some countries. Above all, we get caught up in relationships because of our need to breed. Whether we like it or not, our hormones often get the better of us. 

When it comes to love, most people fall for good looks, ambition and a good sense of humour. Ironically, it is exactly these characteristics that fade away very quickly once in a relationship. We also pick our spouses based on healthy appearance and fitness to reproduce. This is why men fall for younger women with childbearing hips, and women like broad men who are financially capable of raising a bunch of babies. Some of us are less finicky and choose partners in the same way they do their shopping: impulsive and with a sense of desperation. Our fear of ending up alone is so big that we willingly lower our standards for the time being, in hopes something better will cross our path later down the line. Tinder predates perfectly on the general belief that fortune favours the brave. Keep swiping and you might just find ‘the one’. 

Women prefer to rope men into a relationship before taking the panties off, knowing that butterflies soon dwindle after the clothes come back on. They often establish domestic dependency in the early stage of romancing, so it is less likely he’s gonna take a run for it. This is the reason why most men are still incapable of making a pasta or turning on the washing machine, and why women always offer to do the dishes. They prefer to keep their boyfriends in the dark, so they won’t survive living on their own. Of course, men aren’t innocent either. They generally fall for any woman that teases to take her clothes off, and desire countless rounds of trial and error. But once they get their hands on a pretty and fertile specimen they quite like tying the knots themselves. Men often rush into material constraints, such as buying a house, joining a bank account or getting a pet. Thought being that it is less easy for the woman to disentangle herself. This is why they also like to shower their lady with expensive gifts, in hopes a sense of guilt will keep her from leaving. 

Give and take three years after a couple successfully locked one another down, problems start boiling to the surface. It’s the natural cause of things: people fall in love, blend personal lives, get too close for comfort, become frustrated, and before you know it they can barely stand the sight of each other. Realization kicks in that the person they were happy with before may not be the person they’ll be happy with forever. People suddenly recognize that they have constrained their own freedom and compromised their own dreams for somebody else’s happiness. They blame each other for their own personal failure, disagreements become unbearable, and pots and plates start flying through the living room. At this stage, the break up is only a matter of when instead of whether. 

Soon after people go through their first divorce, they change their focus to sex. After years of deprivation, they now have to urge to be seen again and enjoy life for a while. In theory, you don’t need to have a relationship to own a sex life. The problem that arises at this phase is that most people have an unreasonably high expectation of sex. They assume that the other party knows what they are doing, which is hardly ever the case. Women believe that men can have an erection on demand and find the mysterious G-spot, whereas men are convinced that women always have multiple orgasms and squirt when aroused. A lot of romances have stranded because of misjudged expectations and overall disappointment in bedroom rituals. 

Once people have given up on having a worthy sex life as well, they continue living their social life from the comfort of the couch. Hollywood’s romantic comedies are perfectly designed to entertain aged singles and damaged divorcees. A nerdy girl meets the star quarter back, a poor girl meets prince charming, or a rich girl meets an ex-convict. They fall in love but can’t have each other, for complicated reasons, and end up spending the full duration of the movie trying to work things out. And it always does work out. It somehow comforts us to know from the very start that the story will have a happy ending. Because we want to believe it’s still possible, true love and eternal happiness, despite that it didn’t quite work out that way for ourselves. 

Love songs also give us that sense of hope, even though they are often written by ultimate bachelors or musicians that went through their fifth divorce. We all know the story of Eric Clapton, who fell in love with George Harrison’s wife. He sang Layla about her, which touched even the most cold-hearted pricks. He couldn’t have her, and the heartache pulled him into a heroin addiction. But even though George Harrison had the prettiest little thing by his side, he couldn’t keep his dick where it belonged. She divorced him, and ended up marrying Eric Clapton after all. He felt like the luckiest man in the world, and wrote another song for her: “Wonderful tonight.” Problem is, she wasn’t the only one looking wonderful that night. He too couldn’t keep his zipper closed when he should have. There is no denying that love songs are beautiful, but they have as little meaning as Hollywood movies do. I think that the song that came closest to reality was by the Rolling Stones: “Because I used to love her, but it’s all over now.” 

When you are still in a relationship when reading this story, not all hope is lost. There are many ways to make it bearable, even in the long run. The easiest way to keep going is with prescription drugs. Anxiety pills, sleeping medication or antidepressants all work great when you lost the will to engage with your partner. There are also drugs in circulation that can make you horny even in the darkest hours of despair. To suppress the symptoms of rage, you could consider practising yoga or meditation. Another useful piece of advice is to give your other half something to keep him or her occupied, such as a PlayStation or hobby voucher, so you get to enjoy a bit more alone-time. And of course there are still the good old swinger clubs and couple counsellors. Because even though love may not be rational or eternal, it does of course exist. And relationships do sometimes last. You may have to face finite disappointments, but you should never give up infinite hope. Wherever the romance takes you, however dark and difficult, there is always light at the end of every tunnel.

 

Me three months ago: “I hate South Africa, I’m never going back!” Me three months later: “I love South Africa, I wish I were there.” Me three days ago: “I miss South Africa, but I will never go back.” Me today: “I booked a ticket to South Africa!” I’m at the dinner table with my family at the moment, having to explain that I’m not staying in Holland after all. For now at least. I might still come back soon, or move to Dubai. It’s hard to say. My family might be disappointed, but perhaps also a bit relieved. They must be tired trying to keep up with me by now. All the travelling I was planning before I decided to rather stay put. All the big career changes I was making until I decided to keep it just the way it is. Or should I have a bunch of babies instead? I’m not sure. I think my friends in South Africa are happy I’m coming back though, but maybe a bit concerned at the same time. I would also be concerned if I were them. 

I once had a boyfriend. I loved him very much, until I didn’t. I broke up with him, which I regretted soon after. So I made him take me back, which was a decision I regretted soon after. “I love you!” I said on a Monday. I changed my mind before the weekend, and by Sunday afternoon I was yelling that “I hate him!” to anyone who was willing to listen. The boyfriend himself wasn’t there to listen, because I showed him the door. When I saw him again by coincidence, a few weeks later, I invited him for dinner with an apologetic and seductive smile. “I love you”, I said to him. No I don’t. “I love him”, I told my friends. But then I didn’t. It was a cycle that repeated itself for about five years, until my visa expired. Skype doesn’t accommodate mood swings very well, and breaking up doesn’t have the same satisfaction over WhatsApp somehow. Digital love is like a Dutch winter day: icy cold no matter how large the temperature swings. It’s for the best, I want to be single anyway. But don’t take my word for it, I might still change my mind.

Forest Gump once said that life is like a box of chocolates: you never know what you’re going to get. I believe that holds true for most people. When you are impulsive, however, life is more like a box of ingredients that can be turned into chocolates, or pretty much anything else. Like one of those gift vouchers that can be used in whichever food shop or restaurant: whatever the heart desires. The snack or restaurant of choice will be entirely and utterly unpredictable. A High Tea can turn into Afternoon Wine in the blink of an eye, and the box of chocolates may be transformed into a cheese platter before you get to take your jacket off. Impulsive people rarely plan ahead and don’t think too long before making a decision. Instead, they “follow their heart.” But when mood swings are as unpredictable as a Dutch summer day, it may not always be best to “do what feels right.”

Despite occasional poor life choices, impulsive people are enthusiastic and determined about things. They can have a birthday party nearby yet decide to take the train, because trains are fun and taxis are bad! Soon after they bought their ticket however, they may discover that the next train departs in thirty minutes. That’s about twenty minutes too long. Chances are that the ticket ends up torn apart in a bin, because they decided that they rather walk! But it’s a thirty minute walk, which is about twenty minutes too long. Halfway their walk they pass by a gym and decide that they don’t feel like going to a birthday party. Their gift ends up somewhere in a bin, because they never wanna drink again! They go home and decide to rather watch a movie. But the next movie starts in thirty minutes, which is about twenty minutes too long. Who are they kidding: it’s a Friday night, they should be going out! They go to a bar, get drunk as a skunk, and have to be carried into a taxi to find their way back home at four o’clock in the morning.

Because impulsive people are so enthusiastic, they have a lot of hobbies. Hobbies never last that long though. They know a move or four on the dance floor, can play a song or three on the guitar, and will quote a philosopher or two by the campfire. They read a lot, but hardly ever finish a book. They enrol in many online courses, but never get to see the end of it. Since the last time you saw them, they might’ve gotten a puppy, two stray cats and three gold fish. They also like redesigning their interior. If you don’t visit them often enough, walls will have changed colour and furniture will have been moved across the room. They often have one painting (but never two) hanging on their wall that they painted themselves: consider it a warning sign. Best is to just smile and be a supportive friend.

Being friends with impulsive people isn’t always easy. You constantly have to pretend to like their latest haircut, vegan lifestyle, or new-born obsession for dark metal. If you want to be a real good friend, you have to frequently stop them from resigning their job, buying another Rottweiler from the shelter, or getting a facial tattoo. Impulsive people turn the direction of their life as easy as an ocean breeze on a Dutch autumn day: by 180 degrees. It’s up to you to make sure they’re not heading south. They are hardly ever in one place though, which lowers the care-taking duties as a friend. Best is to just await them at the airport with a balloon, and be grateful you’re not dating them. And when you didn’t know about the ‘I made this one painting myself-rule’ and accidently ended up in a relationship with an impulsive person: keep in mind it ain’t gonna last long anyway.

If you are emotionally stable and can’t put yourself in the shoes of an impulsive person, try to think of a game of poker. When playing poker, having a strategy of some sort will increase your chances of winning. However, the game is still primarily based on luck. No matter how good your strategy, you have to be dealt good cards. Even when you’re winning, it can turn around at any given time. Stable people will wait for a good hand of cards, in the same way some football teams will defend until their opponent makes a mistake. They try to win without risking anything. Impulsive people will throw whichever card they consider best at that moment on the table, knowing that cards are constantly being re-shuffled anyway. Their football team will attack, even if it is occasionally at the cost of their defence. They take a risk because they believe life is like a Dutch spring day: it might start off shit, but chances are high it’ll get better.

A lot of people say stupid things. Possibly because they don’t think before they talk, but more likely because they just can’t think that well. Stupidity takes a heavy toll on our economy and slows down scientific progress, because a lot of time has to be invested in trying to explain these concepts to people. Stupidity might even be increasing in numbers, because anybody can breed as much as they like. Stupid people are equally good at survival as smart people, and they often have more babies because they can’t think about consequences that well. Go visit a trailer park and see it with your own eyes. As a result, scientists have been retreating to their labs for many years already, to desperately search for a solution. And thank goodness they did. It’s called CRISPR, and because of CRISPR we may soon never have to face stupid people again.  

CRISPR is the technology of modifying genes and changing gene expression. Because stupidity is often embedded in our DNA, there is hope that we can soon apply this technique to patch up human kind. Some people may only need a bit of DNA polishing, others some chromosome cutting, whereas yet others might require complete gene destruction. CRISPR technology cannot only make stupidity past tense, but could also cure laziness, ugliness or even smelliness. The possibilities are endless. Imagine that, never having to share an elevator with unpleasing people again! Even though CRISPR is still in it’s infancy, I’m gonna go ahead and thank the scientists. We owe them bigtime. 

Genetic modification has thus far only been applied to cure diseases. It can circumvent blindness, allergies, Alzheimer and many horrible illnesses that are currently untreatable. A very noble cause of course. But whenever it’s suggested that we can also use CRISPR to improve people who are perfectly healthy, it ends up in protests. It’s to do with ethics or something. But even though these protests can be loud, it’s nothing but background noise that will be silenced over time. History has always dealt with resistance, whether it was against machines, internet, democracy or racial equality. Some individuals will always be afraid of change and rebel with a cause. Hopefully we can genetically filter that trait out too. Meanwhile, scientists quietly carry on while waiting for legislation to catch up. 

Once the path has been cleared for redesigning people, a bright future lies ahead. Depressed people will be happy, fat people will be slim, and untalented people will be successful. We will no longer waste our neurons on astrology and fortune tellers, but enlighten ourselves with logics instead. We will think quick, read fast and remember thoroughly. By the time we’ve all become smart, we can finally agree on things and make collectively good decisions. There will never be another Donald Trump in the White House, no more Justin Bieber on the radio, and no longer El Chapo’s spreading fear. We will stop having lots of babies and start looking after our environment. Religion will be replaced by humanism, coals by solar power, and factory farming by animal rights. We will also agree that it’s best if women start ruling the world. 

Once women have taken over, the future will be even brighter. They will make the smart decision to genetically improve themselves slightly more than men. They will also adjust men to become less hairy and more submissive. Scientists might even find a gene that will allow men to understand emotions, although that may be a bit too far-fetched. What is realistic though is to start altering our electric brain waves. This technology already exists and is called transcranial magnetic stimulation. There is, again, some ethical jabbering going on, but once women have taken over they will give it the go-ahead. By altering the magnetic fields in our neurons, emotions and mood swings will no longer be a nuisance, and women can turn the men they have dealt with into the men they have dreamed of. They will cook, do the dishes, and forever be faithful. 

Despite all this greatness, there might be one pitfall. If we modify ourselves too successfully, or too extensively, we could unintentionally create a new species. Species designation is based on genetic distance, meaning that a tiger is different from a lion because the last time they shared an ancestor was 4.5 million years ago, and lots of DNA mutating went on since then. Chimpanzees ain’t humans because they’re genetically different, by only 2 percent. Point being is that it probably won’t take very long before redesigned people turn into a new species. Another tricky side to that is that not everyone will be able to afford CRISPR, or be given access to this technology at once. So realistically, there will soon be a time where redesigned people have to coexist with human people. 

This may raise a few complications. First of all, redesigned people could get irritated with human people because they think too slow, have a strong body odour, and illogical beliefs. They might start disassociating themselves and think of humans no different than gorillas and orangutans. Luckily for humans, redesigned people strongly believe in animal rights. Nonetheless, they’re also passionate about the environment, and any ecologist will tell you that overpopulation disrupts ecosystem stability. It’s safe to say that humans haven’t particularly been favouring biodiversity. Compare it to foxes, which were introduced to Australia and almost ate away all indigenous marsupials. Ecologists decided that there was only one right thing to do: the foxes had to go. Genetically modified ecologists might feel obliged to do the same, as long as humans died in a painless and humane way. 

This might sound harsh, but once redesigned people start controlling the human population, the future will be brightened even further. Because there were once 7 billion humans, that all had to eat, shit and drive cars, the world turned into a dirty and acid place. Humans could never think efficiently enough to clean up after themselves, replant trees, or vote against corrupt leaders. Instead, they ate too many cows, occupied themselves with Kardashians, and cared about designer clothes. There was so much human stupidity, genetically modified politicians had no choice but to intervene. In the future, Gucci bags and Porsche cars will belong to natural history museums, and history museums only. 

Soon enough, redesigned people will be able to enjoy clean air, abundant fish stocks and queue-free super markets. They can go on holiday and experience safaris without heaps of other tourists. If they’re lucky, they get to see wild elephants, tigers, and humans. Yes, there will still be humans. They probably retreated back to little villages in the forest, where redesigned people make sure they’re safe and well-fed. Genetically modified anthropologists will have the time of their life observing these humans. They most likely still believe in supernatural things and concern themselves with appearances and something they call ‘love’. But as long as they’re happy and free, living in their own little world and small simple mind, there is no harm being done. Redesigned people can’t take all the credit, but humans will probably be a lot happier in the future than they’ve ever been in the past. 

Roses are red, violets are blue, Rolling Stones is better than the Beatles, and I know more about music than you. Boardgames are lame, bicycles are cool, David Attenborough is awesome, and Donald Trump is a fool. Scientists are smart, conspiracies are dumb, QAnon is ridiculous, and gummy bears are jum. It’s only my opinion of course, which is likely to be different from yours. You might think I’m wrong, but I know I’m right. 

That we disagree mustn’t be taken too lightly. Opinions influence our thoughts, morals and behaviour, and in combination with those of others shape society. For example, most of us agree that murder is wrong, which is why jurisdiction is in place. However, not everybody approves of the death penalty. We generally believe that everyone should be allowed health care, which is why we agree to tax payment. Yet, we don’t all approve of abortion. Likewise, most of us favour freedom of speech, which is why we’ve made it a basic human right. Nonetheless, not everyone supports gay marriage. So basically, when most people agree on something, there will always be some people who disagree. What is it with all these opinions? Why can’t we just settle on things? 

Knowledge is where the first problem lies, as it is a deciding factor in the formation of opinions. Problem being is that not everyone is given the same access to information, or allowed equal education. It is most obvious that opinions will differ between a PhD student from Denmark and a sugar-cane farmer from Zimbabwe. But opinions can differ between a banker from Canada and a dentist from Canada no less. People who attend the same schools, come from the same political background, and visit the same churches, still end up disagreeing on things. It’s because even when people are exposed to the same sources of knowledge, they remain free to choose their own level of involvement. Some will read books and watch CNN, whereas others will watch YouTube and Fox News. 

Another vital reason that people differ in opinion is that they differ in character. It’s mainly the fault of neurochemicals, which aren’t produced at the same rate or function in the same way for everyone. Neurochemicals create our state of mind, consciousness and thinking, which is why there will always be different characters with conflicting opinions. It must also be kept in mind that neurochemical activity isn’t exclusively inherited, but also partly triggered by our environment. The environment will always differ slightly for each person, no matter how similar their lives, and no two people can ever stand in the exact same place or view things the exact same way. That might be the reason why we often say ‘from my point of view’ when giving our opinion. 

Another thing to remark is that we often base our opinion on those of others. We lean towards agreeing with people to win trust, spare feelings of discomfort, and build stronger relationships. It saves us mental stress as well, as it will always be easier to agree than to disagree. Sheople (people behaving like sheep) obey to social rules, conform to social order, and prefer to follow the herd. Asch conformity experiments are specifically out to show that individual opinions are influenced by those of a group. The trick is to ask people in a test group about their opinion, while secretly scientists hide amongst them who give their answer first. Test people most often conform to the opinion of the undercover scientists, against their own logics. Whether it was about counting the number of beans, pointing out similarly sized lines, or doing simple mathematics: when the majority of people seemed convinced of the wrong answer, others went along. People often stated afterwards that they knew the group was wrong, but didn’t want to risk being ridiculed. 

If you’re determined to not become one of the sheep, you could consider behaving like a lone wolf. Some people make a point out of thinking for themselves, being different, and walking their own path. Lone wolves normally disagree with others to be rebellious, defend their self-worth, or thrive for superiority. But by doing so, opinions of lone wolves are still influenced by others, just like sheople. We could ask ourselves whether ridiculing ‘regular people’, or rejecting the most commonly accepted opinion, really makes them smarter at all? 

Likewise, good people are sometimes criticized simply because they make other people look bad in comparison, referred to as the ‘do-gooder derogation’. Greta Thunberg, for example, is a young Swedish girl who raised her voice for the environment. No harm was ever done, but grown-up men started bullying her disproportionally on social media. Bill Gates and his wife started a foundation to fight diseases like malaria and polio in poor countries, and spent over $40 billion on global development and public health programmes. Yet somehow, he got accused of purposely creating the COVID-19 pandemic to gain power, or forcing unsafe vaccinations down the veins of defenceless people. 

What’s more, good intentions don’t always have good outcomes, which further triggers disagreements. A turn of events can convert socialists to communists, hippies to hunters, or Christians to atheists. For instance, the new president of Mexico wanted to combat poverty and drug cartels by a ‘hugs not bullets’ policy. He dismantled corrupt politicians, replaced the violent army with a national police force, and took down El Chapo. He also invested in social programmes, student grants, and business loans, to give poor people an alternative to crime. Good morals I would say, but crime rates have been rising since, for complicated reasons, and so did the criticism towards his policy. Some people now even suggest to stop intervening with drug lords altogether. Although failure isn’t always fair, opinions are guaranteed to change when things go wrong. 

Because opinions are often emotion driven, concrete evidence will be disregarded when “it just doesn’t feel right”. Some people simply don’t need proof of what they believe in, and won’t change their opinion when new discoveries are made. But ignorance can be as good as knowledge, and fact doesn’t always outweigh opinion. Because an opinion is nothing but a person’s view on a subject, no matter the reasoning, we are all entitled to having one. And where would we be if there wasn’t always a person who disagreed, or argued that things could be different? Although the opinions of all these people can be a burden, we ultimately need them to stay challenged and provoke social change. And if your opinion tends to be one of the less popular ones, you shouldn’t worry too much about it. No matter what you believe in and whatever reliable resources you present to back it up, there will always be people who disagree anyway. And that isn’t my opinion, that’s a fact.