SOME of us are social media crusaders. Some of us are just trolls (minus the multi-coloured coiffure), hiding behind our keyboards and hammering out insults we wouldn’t dare to say to someone’s face. Trigger finger turned Twitter finger. Shots fired. You haven’t asked for my opinion, but you will get it. Because it’s my right to tell you why I am right and you are wrong.
Your freedom to say what you want will, in some way, impact on my freedom to say what I want...
Stand for something, or you’ll fall for anything. I love opinionated people. Fences are for separating neighbours, not for sitting on. I always say there’s nothing wrong with having an opinion, as long as it’s an informed opinion. If your opinion isn’t informed, educate yourself, and then talk to me. Don’t waste my time with your piecemeal judgments blended with soundbites from Sky News and headlines from the Daily Mail. And if you want to have a controversial opinion, be prepared for a debate. Don’t be one of those ‘I’m not having a conversation about this’ types after decreeing all asylum seekers should be 'sent back to where they came from', shying away from the possibility of verbal mortal combat.
You could argue that social media has encouraged us to become more critical: we’re empowered by volumes of information immediately at our fingertips. After all, we can scope out the real-time commentary of our favourite celebrities, media outlets, colleagues, friends, and even our friends’ mums to formulate our own views. A true 360° perspective.
We all have the freedom to speak our minds but there’s one reality we don’t tend to acknowledge; your freedom to say what you want will, in some way, impact on my freedom to say what I want.
READ MORE FROM AMIRAH:
Everyone is a critic. We’ve all read reviews of albums, books, headphones and holidays and depending on how well written they are, we’ll take the opinions expressed in these reviews to be true. Two other things about opinions are (a) they’re plentiful and (b) they are entirely subjective. Opinions have the power to unite and to divide. When we share the same passion or disdain for a person, place or thing, we belong to a group of people who are like us.
Ultimately, that’s what we like to know: that people feel the same way as us about what we think is important. But if anyone dares to disagree with us, we aren’t scared to belittle them with overly verbose explanations of why they should take their opinionated-self off somewhere else. If we’re allowed to be opinionated, then it also means we have to be tolerant of the fact not everyone will agree with what we say. Every person is a walking pop-up book: full of anecdotes, tales, trials and tribulations. And we all have our own values, opinions and experiences that have shaped us into the people we are.
The need to express your opinion can feel like a form of compulsion. Just this week, the Pope has written out to all Roman Catholic priests telling them they can forgive a woman who repents for having an abortion during the upcoming Holy Year of Mercy. Excuse me? No human being has the right to determine whether someone else’s soul can be redeemed for their perceived sins. I’m sure there are plenty of people who disagree with me. But I’m willing to have the debate.
Differing opinions are an opportunity to talk and to explore different ideas that you might not have considered. There’s a fine line between healthy dialogue and a heated argument. Just because technology has made it easy for us to tell the world what we think, it doesn’t mean that we have to. The strength lies in knowing when to voice your opinion, and to know that your view isn’t confined to a Facebook post, self-indulgent tweet, or trolling tirade. Use your opinion wisely: it’s a loaded weapon.