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mjranum's avatar

Just My Opinion

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It seems that about once a month, I have a variation of the exchange above. My guess is that it's a "generational thing" (does this mean I am finally old enough to be alienated from the younger generation?!) resulting from 1990s political correctness, which taught us that everyone's opinion is unique and valuable. That's not true, of course, but the consequence seems to be that "it's just my opinion" is the new excuse for saying something really stupid. Since opinions are all, well, just a matter of opinion, saying "it's just my opinion" tries to shelter your words by simultaneously discrediting them and leaving oneself open to counter-attack, as illustrated above. Saying "it's just my opinion" is a sign of weakness; you want to avoid conflict but you're not smart enough to realize it so your actions lack resolve.

If you don't enjoy being dished on in public, you probably shouldn't dish on others who might retaliate in kind and who might not back away from conflict. I'm not here to offer strategic advice, but a better strategy for handling a response of "hey! that was rude!" is apology or silence. Because the apology can be completely insincere and allows you to preserve the integrity and value of your words, and - as the old saying goes, "it's better be silent and have people think you're stupid, than to open your mouth and confirm it."

This image is dedicated to every weak little sissy that I've had to spank for making rude comments about a model. Your parents didn't raise you right; it's not your fault; you're weak and inarticulate. And that's not just my opinion.
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brighteyezdesignz's avatar
Hey, I know I'm commenting hella late on this, but I've been off the dA grid for sometime now, please forgive me! 

I completely agree!! I've followed you for a while Marcus, and I must say, you've always made me giggle. You seem to say things and make points that I never seem to be able to, even though the thoughts are there. I'm not necessarily great at making my thoughts into words, or at least, succinct ones. You have quite the awesome superpower, my friend!

Here's something trippy for ya! I started following you when I started on dA. I was A sophomore in high school, I believe, if not a junior by then. Your art has always fascinated me, and your thoughts on things even more so. I read a bunch of your journals recently and felt triumphant-- sometimes it feels like the weight of stupidity is bogging me down, and I feel like my intellect is slowly being seeped out of me, but then I read that and realize "There is still intelligent life!!". And the fact that most of your journal comments are made of like-minded folk? Don't get me started, man! I grew up an hour or so southeast of Pittsburgh, and some of the people I went to school with and had to live near... oy! I even mention religion or philosophy and I'm pounced on. Quite depressing. My family taught me to question, and question everything; I took it to heart, they apparently didn't. LOL. 

Trolls are such a sad, sad thing to face in this day and age. Myself, I don't say anything that I wouldn't say in person to someone. I've never understood the need to make shit stirring comments just to see how people react. I like your proactive approach, but it seems most people just want to ignore it. Hey, if we ignore the troll, he'll go away. Well, speaking from personal experience, not necessarily. That seems to issue a challenge flag to some trolls. I dated a guy for five years, lived with him, the whole shabang. We broke up and instead of owning what he did to initiate that, he went around telling his family and friends that I cheated on him, which wasn't true at all, in fact, he was guilty of a version of cheating, himself. Eventually everyone realized the BS and apologized to me, but it spawned a weird issue. He got with someone new a little too quickly, and decided he'd sick her on me. I'd never met this girl (I'm loathe to call her a woman), and she was hacking my facebook, writing horrible comments on my instagram, stalking me everywhere I went. She even texted me the most vulgar things I've ever heard, just trying to get a rise out of me. My first inclination was to reply and say "f*** off, you don't know me or the situation". After that, I just started ignoring her. I ignored her for THREE YEARS. How someone could continue being that obsessed with harassing me is quite a scary thing! But she saw my ignoring and took it as a direct challenge. It got to the point that I wrote HIM a formal letter saying, rein her the hell in, or I'm involving my attorney". She's quit, but I still don't feel completely safe. But I'm definitely not going to give up my usernames I've used since a youth or my phone number simply because of her. That's giving her too much power, and she'd just find me again, anyway, delighted that I reacted.

There are so, so many times I see trolls and think: I may be pretty weak physically (in terms of a fight), but I would looveeeee some of these pricks to say that stuff to my face and see what happens. I almost want to dare them to do it! 
blavak's avatar
well done !!!
TheNormal1's avatar
reminds me of this [link]
SalHunter's avatar
The subjective/objective divide.

I prefer an evidence based approach ... I like to ask people what evidence they use to support their opinions ... that usually stops the conversation dead in the water ... especially when I point out all the generalisations they've used and ask whether they would like to be judged on the basis of those same generalisations.

I think it should be pointed out that people define themselves by the subjective judgements they make ... and their judgements often have very little to do with the things being judged.
mjranum's avatar
I agree with you. I wrote a whole journal entry, way back when, on how to have and hold an opinion. :)
[link]

The problem I'm talking about here is more of a defensive verbal mannerism, or very poor strategy. I encounter it way too much.
wings33's avatar
BluDrgn426's avatar
totally faving this
LolZorzs's avatar
This really ticks me off when one person is giving facts or points of views in order to make an argument or a discussion flow and the other guy just states that it's his opinion, refuses to acknowledge it, and refuses to exchange any information to further advance the discussion.
mjranum's avatar
Well, that's pretty much a presuppositionalist position - circular reasoning. The way to respond to that is to simply assert that since it's a matter of their opinion, their opinion can be dismissed as not relevant to you, without any further argument.
loganleewei's avatar
Look at this [link] She says "it's my opinion you can't argue it". The irony is that she just contradicted her own rule by ARGUING.
mjranum's avatar
Yeah, well. :)
All opinions are arguable, unless there are no facts whatsoever involved in the matter being discussed.
iceofwolf's avatar
Thank you for this.
ashigaru's avatar
Brilliant. And yes, I fav'ed it into my "Tutorials" folder.

"Let that be a lesson to you..." ;P
mjranum's avatar
ashigaru's avatar
Doitashimaste! :nod:
AndreasAvester's avatar
About "1990s political correctness, which taught us that everyone's opinion is unique and valuable"... For some reason I haven't noticed it here. In fact it's vice versa. If you want to be politically correct, there are lots of things, which you are FORBIDDEN to say.

The problem with current political correctness is that it forces self-censorship on people (at least in European Union). EU has some serious problems with too many immigrants, who are simply using the local welfare system. They don't want to learn the local language, they don't want to work. They simply make at least 6 children per couple and then demand parent allowances. And they actually get them! I'm not against immigration as such, but I really think laws should be written so that immigrants couldn't abuse them. Another such topic about which you are forbidden to speak and start a discussion is copyrights (there are few laws, which really should be changed in regards to this). Yet if a politician dares saying a politically incorrect word about these themes (and there are many other themes, about which we are forbidden to speak), he can be sure that he'll get fired after a couple of days, because a huge scandal will start. If you are against immigrants abusing local laws, then that means you MUST be a racist and so on.

Because of all this my opinion is that we need freedom of speech instead of such self-censorship. And if freedom of speech means that I will have to tolerate few fools, who say something nasty about me in the Internet, then that's a price I'm willing to pay. Freedom of speech is more important for me, besides without it we won't be able to solve issues like immigration, copyrights, current euro crisis and so on. The only way how to find solutions for such wide issues is by listening to both sides of opinions, instead of branding one side "evil" and making them to shut up.

In my opinion solution for Internet verbal abuse is educating people (especially children). An educated person will never say something rude and stupid just for the sake of "shining" with his stupidity. More empathy could help too (if I know that it feels bad to have my looks criticized, then I won't say that to others).

A world where everyone's opinion is valuable is better than a world where we have self-censorship and no one dares saying something that goes against the official mainstream opinion. Of course there will be lots of stupid opinions, but also some good ones. Even if I hate what someone is saying, I still support his rights not to be censored (of course with few exceptions, for example, when people suggest we should kill some part of population).
mjranum's avatar
About "1990s political correctness, which taught us that everyone's opinion is unique and valuable"... For some reason I haven't noticed it here. In fact it's vice versa. If you want to be politically correct, there are lots of things, which you are FORBIDDEN to say.


Yes, because it runs contrary to someone else's opinion and everyone's opinion is equally valuable. I sort of agree with that, though I'm probably an intellectual elitist to the extent that I think opinions are only valuable if they are well-defended and articulated. That implicitly disadvantages the underprivileged and less educated (or even those who speak a foreign language).

EU has some serious problems with too many immigrants, who are simply using the local welfare system. They don't want to learn the local language, they don't want to work. They simply make at least 6 children per couple and then demand parent allowances. And they actually get them!

Immigration is a challenge to the value of the state. I reject the idea that people's rights depend on where they were born between the imaginary lines on a map. There are a lot of consequences to nation-inspired parochialism. It may simply be part of the human condition; I'm not sure we should excuse it otherwise, though.

One problem with disenfranchising immigrants is that you create a permanent underclass. Societies that do that destabilize themselves because they are setting themselves up for an eventual revolution or civil war. (The US has already suffered one and nearly another in the 60s, for exactly that reason) France is setting itself up for similar problems, as are other European nations. What to do about it? That's tricky; I surely have no answer.

Yet if a politician dares saying a politically incorrect word about these themes (and there are many other themes, about which we are forbidden to speak), he can be sure that he'll get fired after a couple of days, because a huge scandal will start. If you are against immigrants abusing local laws, then that means you MUST be a racist and so on.

This is a phenomenon of how social consensus is formed and enforced. Those who do not go along with the consensus are demonized. Whether it's right or wrong (I'm using the terms loosely)

As a fan of philosophy, I'd like to imagine that if people understood how to think backwards and forwards, and to understand reciprocal arguments, many topics like racism would go away. Ha. Not likely. :( So we try to make them disappear by demonizing them out of existence.

And if freedom of speech means that I will have to tolerate few fools, who say something nasty about me in the Internet, then that's a price I'm willing to pay

I agree 100%. On the flip side, those people who say something that annoys me become legitimate targets for my response - which might also be annoying. :D

More empathy could help too (if I know that it feels bad to have my looks criticized, then I won't say that to others).

Exactly. That's where reciprocal thinking comes in - I don't think we need empathy, exactly (though it helps!) You can build workable social systems out of fear of retaliation in kind instead of positive motivation, if people refuse to understand the positive values.

Even if I hate what someone is saying, I still support his rights not to be censored (of course with few exceptions, for example, when people suggest we should kill some part of population).

Actually I think we should support people who want to make extremely stupid and inflammatory suggestions. The trick is to jump all over them as soon as they do, with reciprocal thinking.

In the US right now I periodically encounter christians spewing anti-muslim rhetoric to the effect of "no sharia law" (i.e.: muslims should not be able to have their own religious/internal adjudication procedures) - I like to point out that the christians would probably squeal like angry children if they were told that they couldn't do likewise. Because it's something they have historically done all the time (for example, the US' anti-gay laws are entirely christian legislation)

I think the important message to send to people is "you can have it your way, as long as you're willing to take it when it's time for me to have it my way. Or, if you don't like that then maybe neither of us ever gets it our way and we have to cooperate." Ultimately this is all a dialogue about power and privilege.

That's why I smack down hard on people who try to put their opinion out and then dismiss objections to it - it's a simple grab for privilege.
AndreasAvester's avatar
I'm probably an intellectual elitist to the extent that I think opinions are only valuable if they are well-defended and articulated. That implicitly disadvantages the underprivileged and less educated (or even those who speak a foreign language).

If you want to participate in a debate, it's your obligation to learn about the topic. And I don't agree that it would disadvantage less educated people. Just go to the local library or find some freely available scientific information in the Internet, and start learning. I don't think that formal education in the particular domain is a must nowadays. For example, I consider myself competent to discuss light pollution, which is a topic I have researched a lot, even though I have never had any formal education about this particular problem. Of course that takes some motivation and not all people have it, but frankly if you have no motivation to learn, you shouldn't have motivation to express opinions either. OK, learning on your own might not work if you want to debate about quantum mechanics, but the thing is that no one's really publicly stating stupid opinions about themes like this one, because, well, only professionals are interested in discussing such issues. Most public discourse happens about much less complicate issues.

About being well-articulated. I support this to some extent. If you don't use punctuation marks, write incorrect and incomprehensible sentence structures and don't divide your ideas into paragraphs, then there really is a problem. But demanding people to be perfect with all this isn't necessary or reasonable either. And if you stop whining and get down to learning there's no problem to learn a foreign language (I speak fluently 4 languages and am currently learning 2 more).

I reject the idea that people's rights depend on where they were born between the imaginary lines on a map.

I agree. I would have nothing against, say, someone who haven't been born in Latvia, has nonwhite skin color and speaks Latvian with a foreign accent becoming a Latvian president (of course if the person has lived in Latvia for some years, is educated and capable of doing that). What I don't like is immigrants abusing country's social welfare system. Well, actually I don't like it also when local people abuse it, only in some cases immigrants tend to do that more.

You can build workable social systems out of fear of retaliation in kind instead of positive motivation, if people refuse to understand the positive values.

I don't think that fear is necessary. Awareness that your ideas will be challenged and you will have to defend them with good argumentation should be enough. You don't need to intimidate a person to speak out at all.

Actually I think we should support people who want to make extremely stupid and inflammatory suggestions. The trick is to jump all over them as soon as they do, with reciprocal thinking.

That works very well, but only if the person is smart enough to understand that he has been refuted and proven wrong. For example, I have been debating about gay rights with some people, who hold silly views, and, even though I proved them wrong (and I assume our listeners understood that), these people still kept holding their silly views afterwards and we will keep on having the same debates again and again and they will tell the same silly and already many times refuted arguments.
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