• Guest Blogger

The urgency of having an opinion on everything.

Often we find ourselves scrolling and swiping through social media platforms, consuming left right and center, at times even the things that we don’t voluntarily want to learn about pops up on the feed and we end up reading and reacting. All this intake of information in a way results in us giving our views and opinion on what we have learned or rather skimmed through, irrespective of whether it is a well-informed opinion or something with half-cooked knowledge. There is this latent urgency we feel about assessing everything and giving our two cents about it. The critical eye we have developed, most of the times don’t allow us to see any situation in its grayness, everything becomes either black or white, you feel the need to pick a side and share an opinion and if at all you don’t have a stand about the on-goings of the world, by being a victim to peer pressure or trying to fit in and be a part of the loop you have got to build one in order to not sound ignorant. Anything more embarrassing than saying “I don’t know” is saying “I don’t know what I think about it”. After all, everyone is supposed to know what to think, right?

More times than we can count, this need of airing a personal point of view on everything has resulted in extremist viewpoints, where ideas, thoughts and opinions are posed as universal truth and are not ready to hear anything that goes against it. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter have become battlegrounds, where it is Us vs. Them irrespective of the matter of discussion.

Lately, in the past few months, we have witnessed multiple historical events, during the course of which social media feeds were flooded with opinions, arguments and anyone going against a particular belief was called out. The battlefield knew no mercy, the outrage was massive. During which the people with millions of followers who we call ‘influencers’ and celebrities were called out for not sharing their take on the situation. They are attacked by their followers and even the media because they have chosen to stay quiet about an issue, they have their personal issues for the step they have taken, rather than respecting it they are constantly criticized for not airing an opinion. And if at all they do share something that doesn’t resonate with the mass audience, they are criticized for that as well. Each one of us has something to say, we want to be heard, we want to be known as an intellectual, smart human who knows what they are talking about and presents it as an aggressive truth, instead of a view and different perspective on a particular subject.

Why? Don’t people have the right to remain silent and battle a situation at a personal level rather than making it public?

Now, let’s go through this entire process:

There is an outrage, people share their point of views and understanding, those views are followed by more opinions on whether that was ‘politically correct’ or not, this goes on until one of them decides to put a full stop.

In this entire process, where do we see a healthy discussion where ideologies are respected. It is nowhere to be seen. The sooner we make peace with the fact that things need to be viewed with a gray film and not black or white, the better.

If and when our thoughts we have put up are opposed, we attack them and label incorrect and when they are praised and agreed upon we feel validated in terms that we can never go wrong. Having a strong point of view has a lot to do with ego, we are sure shot to deny this and say “I don’t have ego issues bro, I am just opinionated”, we simply don’t let the guard down no matter what. We have somewhere lost the ability to listen to people carefully, respect and have a hard time admitting the fact that one issue can have different point of views. Tolerance is lost and the urge to sound woke, intellectual and smart has taken over.

The scenario that everyone who is out there giving their two cents about anything and everything has gained the confidence to do that just because they are behind their respective screens. Imagine a room where everyone who commented on a controversial post was present, would they still have the audacity to say those words that they typed in for the world to see. Opinions and views matter but there are times when they don’t add anything to the conversation.

For instance, recently since the lockdown was imposed people were sharing their home workout videos, which didn’t harm a single body around, yet they were called out for being insensitive. The comment section was flooded with people giving in their suggestions as to what they should be doing instead. Did the basic video of a person working out as for ideas about what they should be instead? I didn’t think so. And when the same person posts about the amount they have donated for relief funds, even then there are people with unwanted opinions in the comment section tapping away doing nothing behind the screens. Everything that aggravates the audience in one or the other way has a parade of people behind it telling otherwise. There is no shortage of opinions on the internet, the matter of whether they are backed up with sufficient understanding and assessment is entirely a different game altogether.

There is something about the way social media is constructed that makes the people using it feel the need to react to everything that comes across on our feeds. It is fast-paced, instantaneous, it just takes a few seconds to react with an emoji or a sentence or two and hit the post. This reflex doesn’t really let us think things through. We do it in order to not feel left out of the loop. About a million people doing the same and boom the bubble bursts, its talk of the town. We thrive for attention, making us think that our little piece of opinionated content might take a hit and go viral. The most powerful urge in all this is to experience the high we feel when validated, proving we are right opposing everyone else, even if the high is short-lived we feel powerful, as mentioned earlier our ego is boosted. Our opinions are tied to our egos quite powerfully.

The whole process of having an opinion, exchanging ideas, having a healthy dialogue or agreeing and disregarding others ideologies and putting forth your idea of it as the ultimate truth, this whole thing is a vicious cycle because nobody is ready to put their guard down and accept that they are maybe wrong about a particular thing just cause of the half-cooked piece of information they have consumed and later cooked it in their own way with the spices and served.

The pressure to have a well-formed opinion is unnerving. Social acceptance is gained only when we are aware of every hot-button issue of the day, and saying “I don’t know what I think about that” is breaking the social code.

We have made these rules so we should be okay if we have to bend them a little. Understanding the issue thoroughly, yet choosing to not air that publicly is completely fine. We have to be okay with people having their own stand on things and respect it as we would want our stand to be respected.

The above blog is written by Purva Shethji, who is a guest blogger at Platform For Artists and also one of the 99 writers of our anthology - UNREAD 2020.

For any OPINIONS related to the blog or to chat with us, please drop an email on hello@pfaindia.com

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