When is the last time you sincerely talked with someone about politics? Or talked to someone of another faith (or none) about Christianity? Or talked to someone who hates Batman about how ridiculously legendary The Dark Knight was? My point is that rarely do we have deep conversations with anyone unless we have to. Why? Because we don’t want to share our opinions.
We live in a world where keeping your opinion to yourself is best. It’s a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Everyone is a cynic who simply doesn’t care about what other people have to say. Never mind that
America was built on the sharing of opinions and a mutual conclusion that started this little thing called the Revolution. People are set in their ways now more than ever, and a large reason is society’s individualism. The focus on the single person has reduced the need for community and the sharing of ideas.
Of course, there is the Internet for blowing up on each other, but this results in an endless back-and-forth war with poor language and ignorance. While it would appear to the average citizen that the majority of people on the Web have a decent amount of common sense, this is not the case. Even those with solid perspectives reduce themselves to cheap shots and pathetic insults. Some may congregate on forums and actually conduct civil discourse, but these are often very private so as to not let the average Web surfer in to their gated community online.
The question is why people don’t express their opinions in a country with free speech. I honestly believe this happens because no one wants their feelings hurt. It’s all good and well if someone has an opinion, but if they share it, they can be antagonized and attacked. And since the art of rhetoric has taken a steep dive, the average American is poorly prepared to defend their positions. Those who can are met with the stubborn stabs of the lesser educated.
What has been created is a no-man’s land for opinions, where the intelligent reserve theirs for other intellectuals and the idiots spew theirs on Facebook and Twitter. Instead of a reason-based collection of well-informed citizens, modern culture is a conglomerate of those too weak to speak up and those too ignorant to have a remotely educated opinion.
What is even sadder is that the problem is cyclical. If people with scholarly opinions do not share theirs, they are allowing ignorant people to run rampant with their uninformed thoughts and tell others, creating more people with uneducated views.
The next time someone presents an opinion you disagree with, don’t let it slide past you unnoticed. Talk to them about it. Wrestle with it. True debates will bring a certain amount of change in a person’s thought process, but only if you willingly fight for it.
Ian Chandler is a contributing writer for The Aviso AVW.