“Opinion has Caused More Trouble on this Little Earth than Plagues or Earthquakes.”


I have noticed a trend lately that breaks my heart. Maybe it’s been going on for a while, but I am just picking up on it. That quote is from Voltaire – he lived in the 1600 and 1700’s, so obviously it’s been going on for a very long time. Is it my place to address it? Probably not, but I’m going to. After all, that’s what my generation does, right? We give our opinion. On everything. We know it all, have seen it all, and obviously everyone can benefit from just listening to us speak. Even if all of that were true, if we really did know everything, really could help everyone – where is the translation between being opinionated and being unkind? I guess the shocking part is how maliciously one can attack someone else, probably someone they don’t know, from behind a keyboard. It’s gotten to the point that I won’t read articles online anymore, because of the fights that break out in the comments section. There are things being said at the bottom of a blog that I can’t imagine opposing gang members saying to each other. If, for some reason, there was a world where these terrible, hurtful things needed to be disclosed, I would hope that person had the courage to say them out loud, face to face. What is causing these awful things to be said? — a difference in political beliefs, religion, body image, anything really. Anything can cause a disagreement between two strangers thousands of miles apart. I guess we should thank God for the internet in that perspective, because if they weren’t so far away from each other, if this topic was being discussed face to face, would it turn violent? Or are we just taking our resentments, our anger, our insecurities, out on people because we can hide from them, because we never have to see their faces when they read our unsolicited opinion, because we quickly forget the unkind words we said when we close the tab? Does having that “shield” allow us to be more opinionated, meaner? And since I’ve taken this afternoon to become a philosopher, I have more questions. If we are genuinely concerned about someone, or think their life could be changed for the better by hearing our abundance of opinions, why would attacking, criticism, or anger ever be the keyhole into starting a meaningful conversation? While the saying “you attract more flies with honey than vinegar” doesn’t make much sense to me (don’t we spend our lives trying to keep flies out?), the concept is accurate. Concern for someone or wanting to help must be coming from a good place, but by making critical comments and hurtful statements, it’s impossible for the recipient to see what may be good for them, because they are blinded by hurt. I can tell you that I honestly have cried tears for the unkindness I see in my world and in my generation, tears for the hurt and pain that some humans feel by reading these comments about themselves, and tears for the people writing these evil things, because having those emotions in your heart and words in your mind must be an awful thing to live with. I have no point here, as most people sharing their opinions don’t. But what if we all just took a look at our lives, and each other lives, and considered them to be precious? Underneath the political opinion you don’t agree with, the “fat girl who shouldn’t have that outfit on”, and the guy who has a different god than you have, we are all just humans, just people looking for our place. And because I belong to this generation where we so openly state our opinions, I will end with mine. If you have to knock someone else down to find your place, you don’t belong there. You’re in the wrong place.

 

 

2014-11-05 15.33.42

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