The internet versus opinion


For some reason, the internet, operating as a mass disembodiment of keyboards tapping and clacking over and over, seems to have no idea what an opinion is.

It’s tiresome, to be honest, the amount of times I’ve read an article and thought it was interesting, then made the idiotic mistake of scrolling down and found the very first comment to be someone declaring the above as “utter bollocks”.  That is if it hasn’t been deleted by the moderators for not adhering to the community standards.

After that original and witty opening shot, the commenter will often go on to bleat about why what they think is THE TRUTH. Which suggests to me that they haven’t quite taken the article in the spirit it was written: here is a thing the writer thinks about a topic. Not here is the absolute truth, and let that be an end to it. Maybe it’s just the nature of the internet that attracts people who seem to be happy to declare something as solid gold fact when it’s actually just their opinion. And because they feel the need to suggest every synaptic fart that happens within their skull to be an example of their mastery of the truth of the world around us, they think everyone else is doing the same. Soz, but that’s not the case.

I have opinions on a lot of things, sometimes I wonder if I really need to have them all, like as a non-car driver with no particular interest in stonewashed denim and lazy stereotyping deployed as jokes, do I really need to know how I feel about Jeremy Clarkson being sacked from the BBC? Probably not, but I do know how I feel, which is pleased and smug but with a creeping sense that sadly this doesn’t mean he won’t be back, looming over Sunday evenings with the dead eyes of a derisive herring. I don’t watch Top Gear and find it kind of annoying that due to the assault levelled on us at all times by popular culture, I still know about the pathetic episode and have formed an opinion on it.

The point is, though, that this being what I think doesn’t automatically translate that into reality. Just because I think it, doesn’t make it fact. You might think it’s fact if you agree with me, but if you like shows about cars and men sitting in them and stuff (and sometimes women if they’ve been on EastEnders or eaten something weird in a jungle or whatever) then you’ll probably think it is utter bollocks. And you’re entitled to that opinion, as long as you don’t delude yourself into thinking that it makes it true. Truth is a nebulous thing, and perhaps it doesn’t actually exist at all, like unicorns, mermaids, the loch ness monster, or Kanye West’s sense of proportion. Of course, that’s just my opinion; who’s to say that mermaids aren’t real? Perhaps they’re just awesome at hiding and looking like other fish. 

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