Stay With Me, Folks
Opinions are good. Gay marriage is wonderful. Fab opinion. I can name at least 7 donkeys on Blackpool beach who would make better Presidents. Inflammatory, sure, but surely sound logic. My point is, we all need opinions, we need a world where we can voice them and talk about them. But I think we’ve reached opinion overload.
I’m not really talking about the big opinions, your politics and your putting down sexisms, racisms and all the other terrible isms that are rife in the world at the moment.
I’m talking about the other arguments on the dark side of the internet: Twitter replies. YouTube comments. Think of a topic, any topic. I can guarantee you won’t have to look very far on the internet before you find a strong opinion on that topic.
Maybe I wouldn’t think it was such a problem if the internet had some sort of volume control. People seem to go from questioning tweet to unchecked rage in moments.
I’ll give you an example.
The Independent shared a tweet, a lovely story about a moose. A rare moose and how this particular rare moose was rarely spotted in the wild but here, look, a lovely peaceful moose, walking around, moosing all over the shop. Lovely. *sips tea*
Like a fool I clicked on the replies to that tweet. I was expecting ‘What a lovely image in this modern fractured world’. Maybe there’d be some humorous GIFs of Sven from Frozen (yes, I know, he’s a reindeer but find me a giffable moose).
But no. There was one tweet:
‘If that moose was in America it would have been hunted and shot by now’
‘Yes well that moose exists in a country with sensible gun laws’
And so, a lovely tweet about a lovely moose became a no holds barred slam-fest about gun control in America.
I am of the opinion that no one should own a weapon. Yes I know, anything can be a weapon. Kitchen knives, baseball bats etc etc. But an item specifically designed for dealing death and nothing else? No. Not in my cupboard. But I keep that opinion safe for when it’s called for. In a discussion specifically about how a gun is designed for killing and a chef’s knife is for preparing your Sunday roast veg and we should definitely not have the former in our homes around children and dogs and pictures of nana. *takes breath*
Opinions ruined this lovely story from moosedom.
Let me give an even more ridiculous example. George RR Martin, as I’m sure you’re aware, unless you’ve been training as a faceless man in Braavos for four seasons, writes A Song of Ice and Fire, the inspiration for HBO’s Game of Thrones. George, like you, me and Great Aunty Mable is a human being and as such, likes to have fun. On Twitter he has a little series going trying on hats. Lovely. The reason I have a twitter really. Nothing strips back the shiny armour of celebrity more than seeing your favourites doing fun, normal things.
On every single tweet of George RR Martin’s. And I mean EVERY single tweet, someone pops out of the dark sea of twitter dark pit of an under belly with some variation of the following:
‘Stop fucking around and give me The Winds of Winter.’
For the uninitiated, Game of Thrones has now overtaken it’s book daddy. Readers have been waiting for the sequel to A Dance With Dragons for about 6 years. But here’s the thing. George is a human. The books are long. Writing a book takes time and are made by a decidedly smaller team than the army HBO have trekking across Europe making a squillion pound TV show.
I see it constantly on twitter, particularly with authors. Victoria Aveyard of the amazing Red Queen series is constantly bombarded by haters who believe they own her twitter and she shouldn’t be allowed to post her opinions on there. Dan Slott, the current writer of The Amazing Spider-man gets much the same. The sad thing is if people actually read Red Queen and Spider-man they would see stories about overcoming tyrants and standing up against oppression.
Opinion seems to have reached the level now where people believe they own writers, actors, musicians to the point they can boss them around and change deep seated principles and values by the medium of tweeting. They let a discussion on anything turn into an argument, another reason to hate a fellow human being.
The point is, we’re human beings. Human beings are doing despicable things, right now all over the globe. Meanwhile people send authors death threats because they don’t share an opinion. People are so opinionated that they are quite unable to just let someone be for having a different opinion to their own.
So, my message. In as short and simple as I can muster it:
Stop hating – enjoy the fucking moose.