The Internet is an amazing thing. It single-handedly propelled the way we communicate forward at an astronomical rate. Friends and loved ones living thousands of miles away can easily be seen and heard from; Pictures of obscure places can easily be shared; and more recently, interaction with a beloved show or personality is possible in real-time. All this development within a span of a few years.
However, along with all these wonders come some growing pains. For all the ease of expressing one’s opinion on the Internet, it is also as easy to run into conflicting ones. This is because the tools that you use to express your mind is also just as available to someone who might disagree with you. And this, as I’m sure we all know, causes problems.
Now I’ll be honest, I’ve argued with strangers on the internet. Sometimes not even in the most civilized of ways. When I was younger I’ve engaged in comment section battles defending the flimsiest of arguments using the most crass mix of foul language and bad logic. I thought standing up for one’s opinion meant scratching and clawing for every bit of ground you can gain against your enemies. A long scrappy fist fight in the mud. Fighting dirty if need be.
Yes, readers, I’m no saint. But in the recent years, I’ve come to a revelation of sorts one that has helped me changed my ways: We’re all different and that’s okay.
The fact of the matter is people, myself included, find it hard to deal with opinions counter to their own. This is because we side on different matters and form our own opinions based on many personal factors each unique to our own circumstances and beliefs in life. As such, we are convinced that our opinion is the best opinion. Its completely understandable to think this, after all they’re made using the best of one’s own knowledge, experience and morality and as such one tends to be highly defensive of it.
We are not aware that this is merely the best opinion for us the individual and not everyone else.
Everyone else is different. Different circumstances, beliefs and cultures form different opinions. And for everyone else, they consider their opinion to be the best.
So what happens when conflicting opinions, thinking they’re both the best, meet each other at the break-neck speed of the Internet? Flame-wars, Bashing and to an lesser extent, Trolling. All these terrible things happen because when people hear opinions contrary to theirs, they feel attacked, ridiculed or even shamed. They strike back defending their views, oftentimes transferring the same feelings to their adversary and a vicious cycle continues ad nausem.
Again this is understandable, this is just simply how we were taught to think as kids. If this is Hot then the other must be Cold. If this is Right then the other must be Wrong. If this is the Hero then this must be the Villain. But personally, I think we’ve come to a point where we’ve outgrown that logic and need something deeper to truly understand both sides of an equation.
The key to avoiding all of this conflict and toxicity is a rather simple but very meaningful. We just have to understand that not everyone will feel the same way as we do. Even people who are on the same side of the argument as us might be on that side for different reasons. We all just have to accept that we are all different and unique and that’s okay.
That means we have to speak our mind responsibly. We have to respectfully express our views, knowing and expecting that many people will disagree. And when they do, bear in mind, they are merely expressing their own thoughts as well, THEY ARE NOT ATTACKING YOU.
I understand that this may not always be the case but this way of thinking is a good place to start. And if more of us adapt this mindset, then maybe we can weed out all the toxic behavior and create a safe place for anyone to just talk speak one’s mind.
Going back to the earlier analogy, expressing opinions on the Internet shouldn’t be a Fist Fight in the mud, but instead, simply a Discussion. The goal isn’t to beat down the other person, but to understand where they are coming from and hopefully find a suitable compromise. If none can be met then we should all just respect and accept that the other has formed their views to the best of their ability and it’s not our obligation to change them. We are all just different and that’s okay.
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Raffy Leynes is a geek of all trades (master of fun).He loves videogames, comicbooks, movies, cartoons, wrestling, science and art. Lately, he’s been liking his geekery with a dash of “Indie”. He doesn’t know what the f*ck musings are but he is told he does them on his Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.