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In my opinion…

In my opinion we are suffering from opinion overload.

There are more and more ways you can express your opinion and have your say – on anything: email newsletters, blogs, opinion pieces in formal publications, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc.

It’s just so easy to be a self-proclaimed instant expert. There is no-one to censor you, or pick out flaws in your reasoning.

If you have something to say – let it all hang out.

And if you disagree with someone, well no need to pull any punches. No “letters” editor who will cull bad language or bullying tactics. Just pop random thoughts on the bottom of someone else’s post. Opinion spread even further.

I’m not at all sure this opinionated free-for all is actually good for us in promoting critical thinking, developing ideas or finding solutions.

Frankly it’s all just noise – and many times it’s unpleasant noise at that.

These free-for all opinions are:

  • Verbalised instantly any crisis happens – time for reflection is taboo
  • Voiced with absolute authority and self-proclaimed expertise
  • Polarised in viewpoint – they are so black and white that holders of differing opinions are defective in and of themselves
  • Shouted and screamed repeatedly in attempt to bully the world into submission
  • Laden with emotional language and promote hysteria
  • Opinion stated as fact

This type of opinion-making inhibits clarity of thought and a fair assessment of the issues let alone a fair exploration of what the issues even are.

Because when you are so sure you are right, and prepared to shout your opinion to the four corners of the earth, then the sound of your own voice means you simply cannot hear what anyone else has to say.

So here’s the thing about opinions – they are just that. Nothing more or less than an opinion. They are not engraved in stone and do not form universal truth.

What an opinion really is, is a reflection of the world through one person’s eyes – their values, experiences, knowledge, biases, beliefs.

This doesn’t mean all opinions are to be avoided. Because, in the vast majority of decisions, opinion is all we’ve got. So if we must opine, how should we do it?

So in my opinion, what makes for a good opinion?

Here’s what I value in an opinion:

  • A demonstration of thought about the issues – not just emotion about the issues. Passion for a cause is of course important – in fact thought without passion is somehow flavourless. But I want thought and passion to be in balance – passion that clouds or leads thought I find almost scary.
  • A dash of humility. All of us are but human. We can err in our reasoning all too easily – and be lead by our passion instead of reason. A tiny flicker of “I may be wrong” or “I don’t know all the facts”. We don’t have access to absolute truth except in the realm of religion – and that folks is faith. Totally different game rules.
  • Clarity about what is being stated. If it is a fact – cite your sources. If it’s your opinion say so – please don’t present your opinion is a fact. If it’s your faith – then declare it. Nothing wrong with saying “I believe…”
  • Avoidance of global words like everybody, nobody, always, never. The real world is much greyer than that. It may not be so sexy or persuasive to say “Some people think” or “This only rarely happens” – but it’s more accurate and shows a respect for truth that I admire.
  • Argue the point not the person. Nobody is a {insert derogatory term here} because they don’t see the world the way you do. Let’s face it, people may have similar viewpoints to each other but it’s pretty unrealistic to think the whole world should have the same view as you. That’s like saying only you have access to the real truth – and that’s ridiculous.
  • A pause before posting. Sometimes situations need to be understood and processed and the formulation of an opinion takes time. Especially when its muddy and something we haven’t dealt with before. Seriously sometimes taking a breath or counting to 10 before posting would be a valuable thing to do.

 And in response

Well folks, this is my opinion as it stands today. It’s taken me a few weeks on and off to put this together – so at least I’m following some of my own rules.

I’m keen to hear your response – after all, this is just my opinion and you may see things another way altogether. And I’m curious about what that may be.

So bring on the discussion.

 

 

 

 

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11 Comments

  1. Rob Burnside

    All of this makes great good sense, Dr. J., but what’s the sense of having an opinion if we don’t express same? Wasn’t it Plato who proclaimed we all have an other half out there somewhere. Maybe that’s what we’re really doing when we express our opinions–searching for that missing piece of ourselves.

    • Express yourself away Rob – I don’t have issues with people expressing their opinions – just that I’m feeling overloaded with the amount of opinion out there lately – and I was prompted to write this by thinking of the types of opinions I’d rather read and consider and take on board. But I intensely dislike things like opinion clothed as fact, opinions that are shouted at me, opinions based on putdowns of others etc. Anyway, like I said – just my opinion about what I’d rather pay attention to. But some questions for you: Does every opinion have the right to be said or published? Are there some opinions that are either better left unsaid, or need maturation and development first? Because I think the things I prefer to see in opinion actually force people to refine their thoughts and come out with a more well thought out point of view. Is thinking things through off the agenda I wonder???

      • Rob Burnside

        I had a good friend who was rather fond of saying, “All Indians walk single-file; I know because I saw one once.” That’s more or less what you’re referring to, isn’t it? If so, I agree!

      • YES!!!!! That’s exactly what I’m referring to. Bingo 😉

  2. Rob Burnside

    Now I can sleep. ( It’s almost 3 a.m. here.)

    • Well in my opinion you should definitely get some sleep – LOL. Sleep tight Rob.

      • Rob Burnside

        If I dream about giant chickens, it’s your fault. zzzzzzzz cluck-cluck zzzzzz

      • HA HA HA. What a great laugh – if it’s a giant chicken giving an opinion – then it’s probably a nightmare…

  3. Rob Burnside

    Thanks for the diagnosis. Do I owe you anything?

    • Nah – you paid up in advance with your ongoing praise of my blogs. Now get some sleep…

  4. Rob Burnside

    Yes’m. Going, going, gone.

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