With the advance of social media in recent years, the world is awash with opinion! People who would not say boo to a goose in reality bash the keyboards with fervour to get their point across online. But is all this 'opinion' really valuable?
Now when I ask that question, I don't mean "Is it a valuable and important thing that people, regardless of who they are, have a right to an opinion?" Of course it is! It goes without saying.
No, what I am putting forward here is a word in defence of knowledgeable opinion, which is vastly different.
Too often, people who in all honesty have no idea what they are talking about, wade in on 'discussions' and debates online, shouting their right to think as they please when someone has the nerve to confront them or call them out. Even when faced with irrefutable proof, some people steadfastly refuse to change their argument and hide behind the 'my right to think what I want' facade.
The fact is they don't have that right. For example, if a brain surgeon puts forward an argument on a new surgery, revolutionary in principle but untried in practice (I know it is highly unlikely that such a discussion would happen on Facebook (other social media is available) but for sake of argument) then someone who is NOT a brain surgeon would have no right to wade in and argue for or against, either way. Or would they? What do you think?
An additional element to all this enthusiastic sharing of 'opinion' is the unpleasant aspect of people who simply cannot stick to the debate, and have to fall to insults, derogatory language or even threats. To me, this displays insecurity, immaturity and/or a lack of emotional intelligence. I understand we all lose our temper — of course we do. But the mere act of having to gather our thoughts and process them long enough to be able to type in a response, is a chance to temper our reaction and perhaps chose different words to those that first spring into our heads. yet some people override this it seems, and write the most awful of things.
I was recently part of a discussion in which two people became quite heated with one another. The one told the other, repeatedly, to go and kill themselves, that they were no use to humanity and wouldn't be missed.
Apart from being plain horrible, I wonder why people can't stop and really think about the effect their words have the potential to have, in real-life terms? What if the poster was suffering depression? Mental illness? A Specific Learning Difficulty? Of just had a life time of low-esteem? What if the prompt to 'go kill yourself' resulted in that person actually doing that? I know no-one but the one who holds the knife, or whatever, is ultimately to blame, but if I thought for one minute that something I had said (or typed) had contributed to someone doing such a thing, I would never forgive myself.
Opinion is all very well. But in my view (pardon the irony) I think it should be tempered with consideration, a smidgeon of intelligence and some knowledge on the subject in question, plus a quiet voice of conscience advising us to just stop and think a minute, before we write or say anything.