It’s difficult to have an opinion. Unless you’re Jeremy Kyle and, like him, you’re completely 100% sure of yourself and your own assumptions. I think this may have more to do with the kind of people Jeremy Kyle knocks around with and presents his opinions to on a daily basis rather than him know right from wrong.
Once you have formed your ill-founded and incorrect opinion, you may feel the need to broadcast it to some people on one of the many outlets available. To some degree everyone has access to these mediums but for most of us they are limited to blogs, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, internet forums or message boards, OK Magazine and shouting out the window of a local bus at passing pedestrians.
So because most of us have access to this new kind of social media, most of us will have an opinion on another person’s opinion. Which inevitably means – unless you want to say something so populist and mundane that most people who can will agree with you – then it’s hardly worth saying at all is it?
Recently there has been reported backlash after someone slightly famous has expressed an opinion on a matter that previously nobody had even thought about, never mind actually formed an opinion on. I’m point at the recent examples of the Clarksons, the Davies’, the Gervais’ etc etc. Whether these people were misguided or not, the fact of the matter is that it doesn’t really matter what they think. What if I was to say that I agree with all 3 of their opinions whatever they say? It’s perfectly reasonable for someone to ask a question or to perhaps state their opinion only to change it because they later realise it was misguided or just plain wrong.
I notice a growing trend in everyone being very careful what they say or do as it’s now ever so easy to say the wrong thing and then get publicly trashed for it with threats of boycotts, lawsuits, backlash and quite often threats of death being bestowed upon anyone who dares to go against the grain of popular opinion. I’m not saying any of the examples above were right or wrong in their latest public forays – I just mean it’s a little uncomfortable to watch a social movement, which isn’t perhaps the best in a land of free speech to unfold before my very eyes.
Something which appeared very populist recently and gained huge worldwide public support was the Kony2012 movement, which let’s be very fair was a very weighty and worthy cause to have highlighted on such a grand scale – but did anyone look any further than this single video posted on Youtube? Not a lot.There appears to be an ulterior motive going on with the people behind that movement, namely Invisible Children Inc. and something tells me their objectives aren’t entirely charitable. I wouldn’t be as bold as to state my own opinion right here and now as, apart from the backlash being incredibly ironic, I haven’t really formed my own opinion yet and probably never will.
If I deeply, deeply cared about something I felt I was familiar enough with to form an educated and well informed stance on then I’d never have too much trouble with stating my opinion. In most part, when pressed I have very little opinion on just about everything in the world and there’s never a real need to give an instant knee jerk reaction to most things that will ever happen. I believe that would be the position of just about every single person to be populating the planet, so why when a quote is taken out of context and republished do so many people feel the need to jump on a bandwagon? Another thing that has become apparent in recent times is that if something which could be considered offensive to a great deal of people is said to a very few, it in republished and sensationalised in order to give everyone who could possibly be offended the best possible chance to actually be offended. Also preaching to a great deal of impressionable folk who either wouldn’t, couldn’t or didn’t care to be offended that they should be offended and so that is the stance they take. This isn’t to say that I myself am so liberal and non-judgemental that I am never ever offended. Of course I am as regularly as anyone else but I think it’s OK to be offended. Think of a world where nobody is ever offended ever… horrible isn’t it?! I do find it implausible to say I am right and everybody else is always wrong but this is the stance that many with powerful media outlets take. That is what is definitely wrong!
If you take an example from the ‘Watergate Scandal’ in the early 1970s, would it be fair to surmise in retrospect that although President Nixon was very wrong, some respect and admiration can be garnered for him through showing such remorse and apologising so sincerely?
On the other end of the spectrum we now see on a regular basis someone who is not in the public eye or in any form of accountable position being thrown out of a country or arrested and prosecuted for something they’ve jokingly typed off-hand on their Twitter or Facebook feed. I’m sure at one time if these idiots had telephoned an embassy or did their stupid, ill-advised and pathetic joke at baggage check-in at an airport then they would be quite rightly chastised by the state and then officially branded an idiot in small columns in national newspapers. However it is increasingly apparent that common sense is no longer applied when enforcing the law and instead these idiots are made examples of.
I await the advent of ‘WIKI LAWYER’. A website with an entry box on its front page where you will type in your potentially offensive, libel or criminal Tweet or Facebook update and it returns the relevant statutes, press clipping and former cases that may have come after your predecessors posted similar statements. We aren’t all big businesses, politicians or celebrities with PR agents and advisors who can let us know what to say, when to do it and why we can’t. Nor do we want to be. The vast majority of us are individuals talking to one another.
So having said that, it’s probably worth remembering, when we are sitting alone at a keyboard in our underwear typing away into these little boxes what these websites are. If you wouldn’t stand in the middle of a busy street shouting it – then it’s probably best not to say it on Twitter. That’s not to say you can’t! It’s very easy to check if someone is a complete idiot or not on Twitter or Facebook. Just check some of their previous comments on their page. That normally very quickly can identify them as an idiot or a clever person with an informed opinion. Also if you wouldn’t run straight up to Piers Morgan and call him a wally – then don’t do it on Twitter. I for one definitely would and probably, like more of you, go for it being his official title.
Well done for reading this slightly boring and opinionated blog to the end. It proves you can read and think with your mind. Unfortunately, those who would feel the need to form an opinion on it and everything else they are subjected to only got as far as the fourth paragraph when I alluded to agreeing with Jeremy Clarkson, Ricky Gervais & Alan Davies. I actually don’t give a toss.
I’ve intentionally shown little opinion and minimised any potential offense on this blog. I’d also like to be congratulated for not swearing at any point. If you feel that if I had done otherwise it’d cause you distress, then I suggest you steer clear of the back catalogue which can be found at http://www.musicbymeiosis.com
Martin ‘Meiosis’ Thompson is a musician in Newcastle, UK. If listening to music is more your bag than reading about popular culture then you should check out his lovely stuff: http://www.musicbymeiosis.com
Follow Martin on Twitter: @MusicByMeiosis
(Yes and to save you the bother of checking my Twitter feed, I am an idiot.)