Opinions are funny things. Everyone differs in their beliefs, values, attitudes. There’s much debate about how opinions develop… perhaps they’re innate, perhaps they are constructed through social experiences. What I want to discuss though is how these opinions are expressed – and the spectrum of objectivity.
From experience, people sit on a continuum that ranges from indifference and nonchalance – to absolute intolerance of others having any opposing ideas to their own. I would sit somewhere up the intolerant end – I don’t suffer fools well – yet watching people stuff their criticisms of people and situations down other people’s throats really makes me uncomfortable and somewhat revolted.
For instance, the Keyboard Warriors of the world. Scrolling innocently through my Facebook feed, often a radio station page will post a gossip story about a celebrity, eg Miley Cyrus, and it’ll invite all trolls sitting in neutral to kick into gear.. then the comments turn into the World’s Greatest Debate and everyone wants the award of having The Last Word. Why express online opinions? Those that do, one can only assume they lack control or excitement in their real lives so feel the need to hide behind their static image of a display picture to ruffle some feathers. I’m not afraid of confrontation, but I won’t actively seek it. Even if I saw something I wildly disagree with, something sexist racist or straight up derogatory, I would never comment online. Those that want to argue with you are simply looking for that – a superficial fight. Nothing you say, no matter how fiercely you say it, will affect them in any way. But then I think, should I be embracing my online opinion? This phenomenon we refer to as the Internet is the biggest platform ever created for those who wish to get up on the soap box and have a say. Pretty incredible protests and rallies have been organised by the unity of those who dare voice their points of view. Looking at the tragedies occurring in Ferguson, Missouri at the moment, it was public outcry that is causing the movement and social media would play a huge role in that.
Another important case to reflect on (especially as a New Zealander) is the Roast Busters case. Now this really rattled me, boys (they don’t deserve to be classified as men) created a Facebook group to brag about their sexual conquests and gang rape experiences with intoxicated underage women. They were not charged despite evidence. Aside from the obvious perspective most will share, what about thinking purely in terms of being allowed to have an opinion. Now they clearly had shared beliefs of what is appropriate and moral, and if you discount the illegal elements of this example, what was the difference between them having their opinion and for instance me having my own views of where moral boundaries lie? Just because our Government or our social contract has drawn these lines for us, does that mean that opinions that lie outside them should be banished? To what extreme? Opinions can hurt those who do not share them, but it is when opinions are treated as fact and turn into action, a problem ignites.
This is where I could segue into a discussion of Atheism vs. Religion but I might save that for another post. However I think it is important to at least touch on the point of this, and how opinions can hurt especially when used as a tool to judge or criticise another human being.
I guess why I wrote about this is because I have a had a fight with a friend recently because my opinion of their actions makes me see them in a new light. Upon telling them this (they asked why I had distanced myself) a roundabout conversation was had because sometimes people cannot simply agree or share an opinion. And I guess that is okay. I just wish there was a way for me to figure out how to have my opinion but ignore it to maintain the friendship. This life business is tricky.