01570: A Matter of Opinion

People say stupid things.

This does not necessarily make them stupid (although stupid people have a higher chance of saying more stupid things) - everyone has their bad moments. But it needs to be stress that intellectuals are not immune to foot-in-mouth statements that are just plain ridiculous. And as much as everyone is entitled to their own opinion and we all want to just live and let live, these modern times make it harder to simply ignore others.

The advance of social media puts us in contact with a lot of people. As much as we typically connect with our "friends" on these networks, it's not like we would have actually had so many conversations with them in an offline context. Through the wonders of the internet, we know get to read the opinions of all of our friends, contacts and acquaintances on an almost daily basis for better or for worse.

And there's nothing truly wrong with the expression of one's opinions - we do live in a free speech society after all. The issues arise when people's opinions come into conflict and there's a desire to convince one another that our opinion happens to be the right one. Thus the fun of internet trolls, flame wars and some really, really annoying comment exchanges on Facebook or something.

Opinions are well and good as long as you have sufficient reasons for believing in them. And should they come into the opinions of others after you've expressed them online, be prepared for a decent discussion but also try to keep an open mind and listen to what the other side has to say. Increased contact with other people means evolving rules for social interaction. It means expanding our horizons and preparing ourselves to learn new things.

If we stubbornly hold on to our opinions and ignore evidence or counter-arguments immediately without much thought, then we're not going to get away. If you really want to progress and move forward in life, then you need to be prepared for new ideas and new ways of thinking. Otherwise, you just isolate yourself further and further and end up being alone.