Opinions Are Like Assholes...

Saturday, 1 July 2017

Oil lamp and books
This picture has no relevance to anything, I just liked the oil lamp.

Opinions are great; they can break down barriers between strangers and help you make a friend for life, they can piss off everyone around you and they’re one of the few things that divide us every single day. An opinion is not a fact but the sad reality of it is some people believe their thoughts cannot be wrong and daring to oppose them will result in getting your head bit off.

I’m an overly opinionated person by nature and I’m fully aware of how offensive my opinions can be to others. I do my best to ensure the thoughts I project onto the unsuspecting people of the world are based on facts or personal experience; I have learnt over time to never express a misinformed opinion and I’m usually mortified when I do jump the gun. I fully expect to be challenged on my opinions and hope that whoever is challenging me is capable of having an adult conversation about why we believe different things. The best conversations I’ve ever had have been with people who have expressed their opposing ideas in a coherent, calm manner without any hint of confrontation or malicious intent.

Navigating a face to face conversation is usually simpler than having a heated debate over the internet. It’s much easier to pick up on social cues when the person is standing right in front of you than it is when you’re arguing with someone via social media. One of the benefits of debate on the internet is the person/people I’m engaging with can’t see the multiple eye rolls I do but the downside is the conversation can be relentless; falling asleep doesn’t mean the conversation is over, it just means you’ve taken an 8 hour break and will probably wake up to a new wave of responses the following morning.

The biggest issue I’ve been having with the internet, particularly during the lead-up to the general election, is how narrow-minded people can be when expressing their thoughts. I’ve always been around people who can’t accept other ideas but I’m finding myself surrounded by these people more and more and it’s becoming increasingly difficult to maintain a presence on the internet without calling a good chunk of people idiots (which I guess I’m effectively doing in this post, whoops).

Let’s go back to the aforementioned UK general election for a second. The general election was a tough subject to navigate on social media; if you dared correct the false or overly exaggerated information that was being shared in a bid to make a certain party look bad you were automatically branded enemy number one and were argued with until the cows came home (even if you made it clear you had no intention of voting for said party). If you suggested people should vote for who they felt is the correct party or refrained from stating who you voted for, you were stereotyped and ridiculed and your only crimes were believing in democracy and the right to making your own decision. A right to an opinion fell apart during the week of the general election and if you weren’t sucking at Labour’s teat, you may as well have sat in a cave for a while.

I’m not oblivious to the fact some subjects, especially politics, can wake the beast and will turn even the nicest of people into a nasty piece of work if you don’t share their thought process but I like to promote independent thinking. I’d rather give people the right to make their own decisions and if they need a bit of help, I’m all for informing them and helping them along their way. Someone disagreeing with an opinion is not an excuse to insult or belittle them, it’s merely a reminder that we all think differently and are fortunate enough to live in a society where we have the freedom to do so.

There have been points where I’ve realised a discussion regarding a difference in opinion is futile. I could present every argument I have in my repertoire but it’s meaningless if the person/people I’m debating with are aggressively pushing their agenda onto me. I’ve had the misfortune of dealing with people who seem to believe because I think one thing that my opinions on other – usually irrelevant – things must be a certain way when in reality, that’s not the case. I can think one way about something that may be offensive to a person while maintaining an entirely different opinion on something else that may be in agreement with said person.

The world is probably rather fortunate that I have yet to become a dictator, therefore, have not enforced my opinions as laws (I hope you all like cheese sandwiches as I believe everyone should have them for breakfast) as it means no one suffers or excels under my warped mind. I think history has taught us that some ideas can be detrimental to others but, in a weird way, I still want to sit down with people whose opinions I deem extreme (and may border more on ignorant than just an extreme opinion) and try to understand their thought process.

I’m open to conversations and I welcome people who think differently as they may be able to change my mind but you can keep the arguments, insults and downright childish behaviour that some people turn to when faced with an opposing view. In the almighty words of Salt n Pepa “opinions are like assholes and everybody’s got one.”

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