In today’s world culture, I am often reminded of the Charles Bukowski quote: “The problem with the world is that the intelligent people are full of doubts, while the stupid ones are full of confidence.” I believe whole-heartedly that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. However, there is nothing . . . nothing . . . not one thing on this Earth . . . that entitles all of those opinions to an audience.  In fact, some of them don’t even deserve to be considered more than once. We have somehow, mistakenly, come to the conclusion that every opinion carries equal weight and validity.  Nothing could be further from the truth.

With the advent of the internet, we now have the ability to create websites, post blogs and publish books.  We can post our thoughts, feelings and treasured images instantaneously to myriad social media sites 24 hours a day.  But, when it comes to sifting through the vast fields of wheat and chaff that compose internet chatter, there’s an important question that most of us neglect to ask.  What are these opinions based on?  Is it education . . . work experience . . .  life experience?  What makes any of this information worth reading, let alone valid?  A large portion of these people have absolutely no idea of what they speak.  Over time, the internet has rapidly become the broad platform for idiotic diatribes.  A large majority of us . . . readily accept this status quo.

An opinion based on nothing can be a shallow, worthless thing to force on someone.  In the judicial system, they have what is called an “expert witness”.  That person is called to testify because of his or her specific knowledge, gained through education, career experience or other expertise.  They don’t just call in any idiot off the street to make that testimony.  They call on an “expert”.  They want to hear facts. I don’t recall the author of this quote, but it definitely further clarifies my meaning: “Every opinion does not matter. Every person deserves life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but they do not get to draw their insanity on the public debate in crayon and assume it matters. That’s for others to decide. The elements of persuasion keyed to factual debate are far more important than opinion because facts actually get us closer to answers than lies do.” – Unknown

Now, I’m not saying that a college degree or long career is a prerequisite to expressing yourself.  Many people are well-read, intelligent and constantly immersing themselves in various subjects.  I, personally, have two art degrees, but have earned nearly as much with writing and self-publishing as I have with illustration and graphic design.  If you have watched pro wrestling on TV four nights a week for ten years, you know quite a bit about wrestling.  You don’t have to ever have stepped into a ring for anyone to listen to you.  On the other hand, your extensive collection of Jet Li and Tony Jaa movies doesn’t in any way trump my years of being slammed on mats and sparring with partners.  Perspective is key.

It seems that logging onto the internet gives some people instant expertise in everything.  They rant, hypothesize, hyperbolize and outright lie to anyone who will listen.  If you have strong feelings . . . feel them.  If you think deeply . . . dive right in.  Just keep that madness to yourself, if you don’t know what you’re talking about. I’ve heard people, when they couldn’t think of any other reason to trash a movie, say: “The editing was horrible.”  I stand there thinking: “What in the name of God do you know about movie editing? You just wanted to complain about something right?”  That and the ever-present “plot holes that you don’t want to expound upon” will end a conversation with me quickly.  More often than not, you just weren’t paying attention or went to the restroom at the wrong time, Mr. Spielberg.

No, having an ill-formed idea and a broad platform do not reserve you the right to beat me about the head and face with the club of your ignorance. Go and live.  Study something . . . anything.  Then we can talk.  Or don’t do any of that.  After all, this is all just my opinion . . .

 

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