Since the introduction of social media over a decade ago, human beings have taken to the concept of sharing their own opinions and responding to another’s opinion like ducks to water!
But almost none of us have been prepared to cope with the inherent flaws of online sharing. As I have argued before, opinions are merely personal judgements, often not made based on facts or knowledge but emotions – usually anger or fear.
But what is often overlooked is that we need to ask one important question when dealing with opinions – WHO said WHAT and WHY? (Okay, three questions).
WHO – the identity of the person making such judgement. Is he or she credible? Is he or she qualified? Worse still, is he or she anonymous? The last one is usually the most dangerous.
WHAT – the content of the opinion. Is it logical? Does it make sense?
WHY – the reason behind the opinion. Is there an agenda? Is there manipulation involved? What is the response that opinion is meant to evoke?
Yes, it’s quite a bit of thinking involved BUT too often we react to an opinion according to our basest instincts – fear or anger.
Usually, these emotions blind us to the three crucial queries mentioned previously. So, we lash out irrationally and fall prey to the very mistakes we want to avoid online.
Worse yet, sometimes regret and remorse fill us when we realise that our response to an opinion was based on a misunderstanding.
Of course, there are folks who do not experience any of these emotions and are even more likely to be manipulated online, believing that their actions are justified.
This is exactly what has been happening in recent times with the spreading of fake news and deception of millions into making decisions against their own interest viz. Brexit and the election of Trump.
So don’t be a sucker and guarantee yourself a safer, healthier online experience by always asking yourself – WHO said WHAT and WHY – when examining an opinion.
… still there’s more …