I’m feeling extremely tense and frustrated of late. There’s something off about the world and even more so than usual. I’m hoping that making my thoughts and feelings something physical might help make sense of the sensation. Getting answers to questions is all good and well. What if you don’t even know what the questions are though? That’s where I’m at right now.
One of my favourite adages in life is ‘If you haven’t got anything relevant to say then say nothing at all’. Silence is a great thing. It’s very underrated. There’s something extremely satisfying about sitting there without making or hearing a sound. Those times are extremely rare. Invariably, there’s always a sound or two to be heard in even the quietest rooms; be it the hum of the fridge-freezer or the whooshing of passing traffic. Those sounds can be dealt with. They can’t exactly be helped. I’m more alluding to the sound of voices whether in the form of another present human being or the television. If the voices I can hear are speaking words that are in some way relevant then I won’t grumble. Other than that, I enjoy sitting in a room with no TV on and no voices to be heard.
There’s another adage that sort of counters the one I used above: ‘You have a voice, so use it’. I have an issue with this particular piece of advice. It’s not an issue with the advice as such. It’s more of a contextual issue. I’m an advocate for people saying what they think. Even if I don’t agree with what’s said, if it’s pertinent then I’m happy to hear (or see) it. This world needs people to be on different pages and seeing things in varying shades of light or we’ll never evolve as a species.
The axe I have to grind about people airing their thoughts is to do with relevance. I’ll use one example: I recently saw a tweet from a woman that was retweeted by somebody else. The tweet was succinct albeit extremely powerful and controversial. It simply read “Depression is a choice.” Okay then. That’s an opinion of this person’s and who are we to say that she’s wrong? The problem, however, isn’t in whether she was right or wrong to say it. The problem is in the why. Why did she share this opinion seemingly without provocation? Was it something that desperately needed to be broadcasted to the world? Nope! It was one person’s opinion.
The thing is that this person knew fine well her unpopular and contentious opinion would create a storm in a teacup. People would respond to her. People would agree with her. People would disagree with her. People would retweet her. People would hate her. People would love her. Most importantly, people would give her the attention that she so obviously craves.
Therein lays my problem. It seems that so many people nowadays (almost always on social media—shocker!) have something of very little to say all because they want to get everyone’s attention. It’s absolutely impossible not to pour their opinions, their diatribe, their expectations of society onto everyone because, if they keep it all locked up inside, nobody will be able to react. There’s something about getting a big reaction that gives certain people a mental erection—perhaps even a physical one for some! I’m sure we’ve all seen those people who bleat about the number of likes a post received; the number of shares and retweets, their number of followers, their number of friends. It’s all a big numbers game this social media business.
Thanks to the herd mentality present in most human beings, many follow suit. “Well if they’re getting two hundred and thirty-seven likes for sharing that opinion then mine should easily get five hundred.” And so it begins. We’re now getting inundated with everyone’s controversial thoughts. Even those opinions that align with the minority-loving far left are controversial because they know that it will piss at least one person off. That’s exactly what a far-lefty wants because then they can have an argument. Far-lefties love a good argument; especially one that makes them look virtuous. Anyway…
Once again, I return to relevance. A shared controversial opinion will never be a problem with me (mentally, even if it irks me emotionally) because I fully support the freedom of speech movement—provided the opinion is being shared for a valid reason. If the opinion pertains to a recent event that has got people talking then fire away. Why not share what you think about it? However, if it’s an opinion that you’re only sharing just because you want to get a rise out of everyone—like our friend above who believes people choose to be depressed—then you’re a grade one attention-seeker and very likely a megalomaniac with it. Why else would you put yourself on a pedestal and judge people in such a way?
Of late, there is a lot of opinion sharing going on and most of it is trite crap! I can barely bring myself to look at Facebook these days for fear of my bullshit detectors overloading and crashing irreparably. Even if I avoid Facebook I can’t avoid the opinions. They’re everywhere; on topical programmes, the news, radio, articles (most of which link to Facebook anyway when you look at them online), and so on. We’re forced to endure what everyone thinks whether we want to or not.
Now I’m not urging people to stop sharing their thoughts. That would be a complete step away and backwards from my earlier stated freedom of speech belief. What I would like to see is for people to put a little more thought into what they’re sharing. For them to ask the question before hitting ‘Post’ “Does everyone really need to see this? Am I posting this because it simply must be known by all or am I doing it just because I want to cause a little controversy?”
Don’t try hiding behind memes either. If you have something to say then bloody say it. Sharing a meme with an opinion that you agree with doesn’t make your opinion more justified as memes can be made by literally anybody with access to a computer or smartphone. A meme saying something doesn’t make it right. I remember somebody once trying to prove to me that the moon landings were a hoax in sharing irrefutable proof by virtue of about forty memes. If anything, he solidified my belief that the moon landings were genuine just because of that!
I realise that I bring up opinions in a lot of my posts. I’ve talked about them in terms of those who are easily offended; I’ve talked about them as regards folk leaving customer reviews; hell, I’ve shared so many of my own opinions that I’ve since forgotten what a lot of them even are! The reason I talk a lot about opinions, aside from being very opinionated myself, is that I do enjoy garnering the thoughts of others. I love to debate and sometimes even argue over a clash of beliefs. I love to cause people to think about what I say and I love to have my own opinion adjusted by a well-constructed counter. Opinions teach us if we’re only prepared to learn from them—more importantly, learn when our own opinions lack any real strength in fact and detail to back them up.
Sadly, it’s doomed to continue that most will blindly spout their mental diarrhoea with no attempt to fully learn the extent of what they believe nor revise the counter to it. The needle of my bullshit detectors will remain in the red and I’ll get increasingly frustrated at the general ignorance of folk. I might start playing mind games and comment with “Haha” on every poorly thought-out post I see. I wonder how long it would take before I got shouted at?