Saturday, July 19, 2008
A Fine Line
cynic: A person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.
There is a fine line between a skeptic and a cynic. A skeptic can be a good person to be around. He will stay grounded in reality yet stay open to all possibilities. A cynic may be not so good to be around. He will think only in negative terms, cast doubt upon everything and literally take the fun out of life.
I have come to the conclusion that it is very beneficial to be a skeptic while it is very detrimental to be a cynic. Skepticism helps protect you from rash decisions and foolish choices. If you are skeptical you proceed more carefully and make better informed decisions by not trusting overly optimistic claims or people. You are more grounded in reality and will tend not to be unduly influenced by things that you see and hear.
But one has to be careful to guard against being too skeptical. Over skepticism leads to cynicism and negative attitudes. Negative attitudes can be helpful sometimes but an abundance of negativity simply makes you someone to be avoided. Cynics have few true friends because of their nature. No one likes to be around someone who always spouts negative thoughts and ideas.
I think there is a fine line between these two attitudes similar to there being a fine line between love and hate. It can be fairly easy to fall into hate with someone you love or to fall into love with someone you think you hate. This is true with skepticism. Exhibit too much of it and it crosses the fine line and becomes cynicism.
Skepticism can be productive, cynicism can be destructive. Which one sounds better to you?