What is an opinion? Well, according to the English Dictionary, an opinion is a personal view, attitude, appraisal, belief or judgement that rests on grounds insufficient to produce certainty. By its very definition, then, an opinion is several thoughts cobbled together from a combination of presumptions and knowledge of limited facts. It cannot be right, nor can it be wrong. What, then, is the point of having one?
We usually read a whole manner of opinions on social media from people who obviously have no idea what they’re talking about most of the time. Politics is always a safe bet for those to sound off with what they think is a valid opinion. Take for example the increase in tuition fees a couple of years ago. There was no way that the taxpayer could continue to subsidise university courses for students anymore. Naturally, it caused outrage and Facebook and Twitter were littered with declarations of hate. But the cold hard truth could not be denied; Britain was – is – pot-less. Why was this undisputable fact constantly overlooked?
There have been many, many occasions when I have been exposed to people who make my ears bleed when they talk. Nothing makes my teeth itch quite like someone who feels that they must have an opinion on something just for the sake of having an opinion. Why? What use can a baseless opinion plucked out of nowhere possibly serve to anyone?
I am getting married this July, and I have strong opinions on my suit, the wedding car, and the seating arrangement. I am wearing a dark navy suit because it suits me. I’m driving a 1964 MGB Roadster and not a Daewoo Matiz because I know and understand cars. I also have to ensure that certain relations are kept at distance from one-another when we are eating for fear of strife. However, my fiancé keeps asking me about flowers. I know nothing of flowers and therefore have no opinion on them. Sometimes this makes her very cross. However, after being threatened with immediate cessation of remote control rations, I picked one out in a magazine at random and was told, quite abruptly, that they were only used at funerals and were inappropriate for a wedding. I would have been better off sticking to my guns and remaining silent on the matter.
Then, of course, there are those who are overly liberal with the QWERTY keyboard, and in the immediate aftermath of breaking news stories will waste no time in telling the rest of us what must be done. I’m sorry, but I’ll take my recommendations from Clarkson, Brooker, and Mitchell, thank you very much.
As we know, at no point in the definition provided at the outset does it say that an opinion can be right or wrong. Two people bickering between themselves, each with a different opinion is, as far as I can tell, as tedious as the human race can be. Going around in circles saying “I’m right,” “no, I’m right” is like nails on a blackboard. An opinion is all about credibility; not whether it is right, wrong, or popular.
It is one thing to have an opinion based on impulse, but something else to have one based on ill-placed misogyny. Before you start pouring buckets of scorn over those whom you see fit, take a quick look in the mirror, stick Jeremy Paxman: Empire in the DVD player, get a notepad ready and prepare your thoughts logically.
People will respect you a lot more if you can a) corroborate your opinions with hard facts, not misconceptions, b) present a fair, balanced argument based on those facts, and c) when needed, put your hand up and say “I have no knowledge on the subject.”
No one can try to stop you having an opinion, this isn’t 1984, but coming out with crass, abhorrent, racial slurs will not only make you look unintelligent, but confirm as much. You’re better off not having one at all.
That’s my opinion on it, anyway…