Subjectivity is, “the quality of being based on or influenced by personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.” It is what I call truth with a little “t.” There’s nothing inherently wrong with it, “here is my little truth,” here’s how I perceive things.
Objectivity is different, it is “the quality of being objective.” Some synonyms are “impartiality, neutrality, open-mindedness.” It is simply a willingness to know yourself and to recognize where you end and something else begins. Objectively, outside of you.
Nothing teaches you about objectivity versus subjectivity better than blogging. It is like a crash course on the mother of all craziness. The goal of blogging in simplified terms is to convey ideas to other people, as best you can using words. It may be sent out as a combination of subjectivity and objectivity, but it is nearly always going to be received somewhat subjectively. That means the person reading it is likely to subjectively receive what you are saying, based on their own “personal feelings, tastes, or opinions.”
That’s understandable, that’s what makes this dance so much fun. A world of pure objectivity is sometimes very stale, sterile, and it actually fails to provide us an accurate perception of Truth with a big T. “Objective truth” is kind of an oxymoron, a bit like “subjective truth” is. To really dance with the Truth properly, you need a good balance of both going on, kind of like a tango.
Back to the mother of all craziness however. We seem to be living in a world absolutely plagued by endless subjectivity, navel gazing. It’s like an affliction, a computer virus that has spread across the whole spectrum. Along with subjectivity comes projection, where one projects their own “personal feelings, tastes, or opinions,” onto another or onto a situation. Worse, we presume we understand, and actually begin to define things based exclusively on our own subjectivity.
That is how I come to be, in the span of one morning, both a rabid right-winger who hates puppies and a flaming liberal heretic who is destroying the world. Since I know that even with my own amazing multiple personality skills, being both of those things simultaneously is just not possible. What we have here isn’t “me” at all, it is a projection being made by two other people, based entirely on their own personal feelings, tastes, or opinions, and likely their experiences, too.
It is also how we come to so frequently label and dismiss people, to perceive reality all wrong, and to shut down communication. Just a teeny, tiny, smidgen of objectivity now and then, helps us to see more clearly and to interpret the data we are receiving a bit more objectively.
I keep trying to tell people, “the Truth is a person.” That’s a faith-based statement, a biblical truth based on John 14:6, “Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” Jesus calls Himself truth a few times. Hence the saying, truth is a person. That helps us to understand that we are having a relationship with a person outside of ourselves.
But I say that for another reason too, a reminder that “truth” is not something we can play capture the flag with, as if it is this subjective thing we can own, possess, or define. It is not a finite resource where if someone is in possession of “truth” they are now threatening my little piece of truth pie. It is so important that we remember that the Truth is not a pie that we own, completely defined by our own subjective perception of it. It is. Or as God says, I am.
This simple and quick little run down on objectivity versus subjectivity can be really useful. It helps with blogging, with communication, with interpersonal relationships, with how we perceive the culture, with marriage, and with faith.
Know thyself. If you know thyself, subjectivity can be a lot of fun, it communicates who you are, what you experiences are, how you feel about things. The problem crops up when people have no idea who they are, or Whose they are, and simply respond and react to the world and to the people around them, subjectively. We’ll call it “knee jerk.” People who seem incapable of even seeing the nature of their own selves.
We all do it sometimes so I don’t mean to sound excessively cruel here, but it can be a bit like watching a wind up toy just walk face first into a wall over and over again.
Don’t be that toy.