In the times of a physical paper with smeary ink and that special newspaper texture and smell, a cleverly written letter to the editor would be printed. That would be about the extend of public opinion. And usually it was from “that one” person that drove the community nuts because they constantly expressed their opinion. They seemed fanatical when they wrote in frequently.
Now I take my news online. Below each article is commentary from anyone. As if their opinions matter. They are unavoidable. It’s become that everyone feels a need to express their opinions. It’s their first amendment right!
Consider, for a moment, the ugly side of opinions. We’d like to live in a world wherein people are open minded and are not judging personal thoughts or views. But what is critical is how opinions are presented. The heat and aggression with which many opinions are now expressed don’t invite open discourse. Hatred, anger, conspiracy, and an overall vile spirit lead many expressions. In a mode of self preservation, why would anyone walk into that trap? Soon opinions lead to insults and people are attempting to outwit one another by slinging colorful phrasing that all say “you’re an idiot.”
While over 80,000 Americans have perished at the hand of COVID-19, I see an almost feverish need to express assertions as to who is to blame. We take in some smoke and fan the fire with our rage and opinion. We may not be educated in science, medicine, economics, politics, or epidemiology, but damn it, Facebook, we have something to say about it!
Opinions, thoughts, and beliefs are carried onto personal Facebook pages. “If you don’t like it, unfollow me!” Okay. Done. The thing is, I don’t need to know so much about you. You’re probably someone I know in passing. Maybe we worked on a project together a decade ago? I love to see how your kids are growing and what you’re planting in your garden. I’m thankful when you share a recipe that actually seems like I could make. I will be ever grateful to “friends” for the tips on how to relieve my poison ivy misery. But your venomous distrust of the government or theory on a topic you have no expertise on is beyond what I’m interested in.
I don’t need to know your stance on government orders now just as much as I didn’t really need to know “you” were the parent that provided the alcohol for an underage party. It seems that when we didn’t have so much access to information, it was easier to keep up appearances. I would love to go back to that. Don’t misunderstand, I like you. I like that we have something in common, whether it’s our children, our past, our career choices, or the fact that we’re both passionate about hammocks. But not every relationship is made to go beyond that.
With the death toll ticking like the odometer of a race car, I’m interested in peace. You do what you think is right for your family. I’ll do what I think is right for mine. I hope that we’ll both be survivors in the end, unscathed and unscarred. That is likely impossible. This virus is doing damage on so many levels. But hey, have you got a good recipe for potato salad?