It’s hard to get mad at people who take the safe route and withhold their true feelings, in their own names, online. After all, sometimes people will say something that others don’t agree with, and no one wants to be derided for their feelings. These days we have the term “cancel culture”, and it sounds scary. People risk losing their jobs, their friends, and being castigated all over social media; I understand.
Often, it seems the people who fear this the least are those with true hate in their hearts, those who could care less about everyone, only themselves and those like them. Those are the folks who believe it’s always better to be your ugliest self up front, then apologize later and say people took what they had to say out of context, or give a false apology as in “I’m sorry if you were offended by…” Yeah, I bet!
In reality, the above isn’t true. Whereas it’s possible a lot of people are like that, just as many are well meaning in general but have things they feel compelled to say. For instance, I like to think of myself as generally being a pretty nice guy. But I’ve never been afraid to mention how much I hated Rush Limbaugh (and I don’t mourn his death), I hated Antonin Scalia (I openly sang “ding dong the witch is dead”) and I openly hated the orange guy who must and never will be named, even when New York gets done with him.
If I feared saying things like that, especially when it’s personal because I took their very existences personal, I’d be inclined to keep my opinion to myself and never utter another statement. In the case of the 3 I mentioned, they started it, didn’t get what they deserved, were openly racist, misogynistic, fake religioustic (that’s a real word), and at my age I don’t have any more time for that kind of nonsense.
With the above being said openly, I don’t often go that hard on anyone, even when I’m writing about race related issues, here or on my other blog. I try to be a bit more genial even when I’m hitting hard on specific topics. I’m not worried about getting canceled for two reasons: one, I’m not big enough for anyone to worry about; two, all I have to say to someone is put yourself in my shoes for a week then come back and talk to me about it.
But that’s me. Overall, most people are ready or willing to go that far and share their own name. Twitter’s that kind of place, but most of the people saying things on both sides are using fake handles and trying to protect their anonymity. Some have even set up bots to keep those conversations going by intentionally spouting nonsense; after all these years I’ve learned how to suss them out and block them; that’s the best way to go.
Let’s talk about this as it relates to blogging. As I said when I started, I understand when people don’t want to “go there”. It can be hard when someone comes back hard on you for your opinion, especially when it’s unpopular.
Yet, over all the years I’ve been blogging, I’ve found that the most vehement disagreements I’ve had on blogs has been on the most innocuous issues. On this blog, one had to do with commenting on young female teens dressing inappropriate for their age and their parents allowing it (I still stick by that position). Parents had a field day with me on that one, but their own excuse was talking about peer pressure, which I’ve never bothered with. One person left and never came back; she gave up blogging a few months later (yes, I checked).
I remember meeting a guy years ago at a networking event in another city. I went down with a friend of mine who was part of a small panel on blogging. I was talking to him afterwards and asked him if the discussion was going to lead to him writing his own blog. He said no, because he didn’t want to have people hate him if he said something wrong. He was a programmer who lots of people could have learned something from, but he was more worried about someone disagreeing with him than teaching people what he knew and possibly generating more income; that’s a shame.
Unless your opinion is a direct condemnation of others based on factors they can’t change, there’s no such thing as a wrong opinion. People who are heavy, people with disabilities, people with different lifestyles than yours… whatever… they’re not there for your derision or insults. If that’s what you do you’ll probably find your audience because that’s America, but if you start taking lots of hate don’t go crying about being misunderstood or your freedom of speech rights, which is only federal law not “people law”.
I’m not saying to generally write hate speech about people and issues you’re passionate about. I’m not saying not to write about your specific topics; if you own your domain name and hosting account, that’s your property; do what you want with it. What I’m saying is if something hits you to the point that you want to say something but you’re scared to do so, think about what’s the worst that could happen, think about how you could word it so it’s not a strong or intimidating opinion and, if you can handle it, go for it. Don’t be inflammatory, but don’t be scared either.
And for now, I’m not going after anyone else; I’m fine! 😉
9 thoughts on “It Takes Guts To Have An Opinion”
I agree that it takes guts. One thing that you may want to consider is the physical safety of outspoken broadcasters. Trolls might track them down and publicly post their home address, place of work and other private information.
Since 1995, I made a pact with myself to refrain from participating in open discussion forums in the following cases:
1. It’s none of my business (in other words, don’t give unsolicited advice)
2. The topic is something about which I am uncomfortable (like you just wrote about)
3. The discussion is proceeding along the lines of a flawed premise (remember my article, “Fruitless Debates”?)
1995 was the first and last time I violated all three rules. LOL
In general, I think it’s fine to have an opinion on things without having to worry about someone showing up on your doorstep. It’s all in how you deliver the message and to whom you’re delivering that message to. I think 2020 opened the doors to some serious discussions and opinions on race relations from minorities. Many faced backlash but they not only got tons of support but their supporters went after those who offered the backlash in the first place.
I like your 3 points and positions. I did that for most of the 2nd half of 2020, even though it made my stomach hurt. After the election it was tough to hold back. January 6th was the final straw; luckily we were heavy in the majority opinion of that kind of attack on the country; can you imagine what it would have been like if things had gone the other way? However, since the “fake” 2nd impeachment I’ve stayed away from watching the news. I see headlines on Twitter, and for the most part I ignore them. Life’s definitely more peaceful… but we’ll see if it stays that way tomorrow or Wednesday (you know…).
Cool. I know many people feel compelled to give voice to their opinion. I’m not saying I don’t, I just don’t do it on blogs or other social media.
It does take guts to have an opinion especially over something controversial. For the most part, I try not to weigh in on those kinds of topics.
Overall I do as well unless the topic is race; then I feel obligated, as I’ve been a fighter against racism for nearly 50 years. I think being true to oneself is an exception when you’re in support of something where those being aggrieved are in the minority (of sorts, since I also take on women’s issues even though technically they’re in the majority).
It’s really hard to have an opinion, especially when someone you know has an opposing opinion and feels they need to argue and fall out over it. I do tend to have pretty strong opinions about some subjects and use my voice wisely, but I refuse to argue, especially over social media.
That’s probably a smart thing to do. I rarely get into arguments, but I definitely express my opinion. Depending on how a conversation goes, I’ll talk about subjects, but if it’s an immediate attack response I know there won’t be any cogent conversation so I block and move on. Blocking or muting people is a wonderful thing! 🙂
We allow other people’s opinions to not only hurt us, but oftentimes, to define us. But it doesn’t matter what other people think of you. It doesn’t matter what other people say about you behind closed doors or even right in front of your face. Their opinions have no basis in defining what you’re all about.
In general I agree with you. In practice, there really are some abhorrent opinions and some really abhorrent people who don’t know when to leave well enough alone. I think opinions are fine and dandy, but the delivery of some of those opinions could end up making someone a virtual martyr of a cause they didn’t want to be the leader of. Still, it takes guts to have even a popular opinion and being willing to share it with the masses.