• Opinion

    Opinions on the Internet (Or in the Real World)

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather

    It seems likely that anyone reading this in the moment knows that there’s a worldwide pandemic going on. There are certainly people out there who don’t get what that means, but it’s likely there are fewer folks all of the time who don’t know that something is going on.

    I’m personally in a non-essential industry and have been off work for two weeks now. Staying busy, so it’s not so bad yet. That may change. My wife works for an essential service, so her stress level is higher than it needs to be. That probably won’t change for a while.

    Busy or not, I’m spending too much time on social media. Yes, it’s most of the social I really get right now, but that’s no excuse.

    And there are trends.

    Most of those trends are people keeping themselves amused in ways that don’t involve COVID or help keep each other in touch with friends and coworkers.

    But some of them essentially boil down to opinions on medical advice.

    In terms of opinions, remember that everyone is free to hold any opinion they like, but the rest of us don’t have to agree with it or listen to it. And, really, regardless of what social media platforms would have us believe, we’re only entitled to hold an opinion we can back up with sound reasoning and facts. Anything that can’t be defended is entitled only to be dismissed. And the phrase, “I’m entitled to my opinion” is either an open admission that you don’t care about facts or that you’ve lost the argument.

    It’s hard to have an informed opinion and it’s work to make sure our opinions are as informed as they can be. Which makes us lazy, so anything we can halfway back up with a little handwavium inside our heads is good enough for the most part.

    Except it’s not.

    In terms of medical advice, I think the rest of us should be gently, and sometimes not so gently, reminding those folks to keep their medical advice to themselves and leave things to the experts.

    Because here’s the thing: except for the medical professionals, none of us really knows enough to have an informed medical opinion. And if we don’t have an informed opinion, we need to remember to trust the people we do. That’s something that seems to have fallen away from common sense in the last couple of decades. Somehow, we’ve made it so that trusting expert opinion is the exact opposite of the default. Yes, question authority. Yes, ask questions of the experts. Yes, expect explanations and clarity and transparency. When you do get it, that tells you something, too.

    I fully recognize that it’s not always easy to tell who has an informed opinion. We can only judge by their words and actions and try to figure out from that, and the people working with and against them, what politics might be involved. It’s just that a lot of times we can’t be bothered to try.

    And so we have thousands (or hundreds of thousands) of people giving medical advice because of a half-formed opinion they saw on the internet or something they feel in their heart is true. It’s why there are still people saying not to take ibuprofen if you’ve possibly been exposed to COVID because that makes it worse when every medical authority has backed away from that unless you’re already one of those people who shouldn’t take it. It’s why there are still people who think their immune systems are fine and they aren’t worried about getting it so all of these precautions we’re taking are stupid and we shouldn’t be worried either. It’s why some people think silver solution will protect them from the virus, or praying, or vitamin C, or essential oils. It’s why the conspiracy nuts are in full swing warning about 5G and how it’s actually a bioweapon and that the vaccine they eventually develop will be to put mind control RFID chips in our blood and how the secret rulers of the planet are just doing it to take away our rights and freedoms.

    It might seem like I’m getting off track, but this is all stuff I’ve seen today.

    I remind myself that none of us are under no obligation to accept someone’s opinion, or advice based on it, unless they can back it up with sufficient reality. If they can’t, you can kindly remind them, with a grandiose wave of your hand, “Lo, before you is the field in which I grow my fucks. See thou that it is barren.”

    Or use nicer words. Your call. Mostly, I use the laugh emoji and move on.

    But remember that none of us is informed about everything, and most of us don’t really have a solid grasp of epidemiology, virology, or COVID itself. There are people who do, and those are the folks we should be listening to right now, not some random voice on social media.

    But hey, that’s just my opinion. We can talk about it if you like.

    Stay safe and be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Opinion,  Philosophy

    I Kind of Hate Christmas

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby feather
    Is it worth it?

    Confession time: I kind of hate Christmas.

    Okay, maybe hate is too strong a word. And I don’t necessarily mean the basic concept of Christmas itself. Whatever religious significance you’d like to attach to the holiday, to me Christmas is the gatherings of family and friends, a sharing of thoughts and time, a reminder of the important things. Whatever particular version of a particular holiday you choose to celebrate this time of year, I’d be willing to bet that those things are somewhere close to its core.

    Unfortunately, that’s not what our society is trying to force down our throats, and hasn’t been for a really long time.

    What we have is Christmas decorations for sale starting as early as the long weekend in August. As the calendar advances, they take up more and more space, barely giving away anything to Thanksgiving, which, due to its nature of it primarily just being about being grateful for what we have, has a hard time completing, hence the spread of the black Friday plague. It grudgingly allows some space for Halloween, which people like to celebrate with a sugar overdose, but before those decorations can come down on the first of November, Christmas is in full swing. The music, the decorations, the moral outrage that the holiday isn’t what some people think it is, the public displays of over-consumption and conspicuous goodwill.

    No other holiday requires two full months to celebrate and three more to remind us that it’s coming.

    So yes, I hate Christmas. But what I hate about it, we’ve done to ourselves.

    If it makes you happy, if you find joy in it, you can have your annual debt increase and smoking credit cards. You can have your ridiculous pile of decorations and your inflated electric bill. You can have your rampant materialism and consumerism and all your shiny new toys. You can even have your table-breaking, seam-splitting, belly-bursting, enough calories to survive on for a month Christmas Day feast. I’m good, thanks. I’ve had enough.

    I’ll have my family, a quiet meal in a safe place, and as much time with them as I can manage. I’ll have my friends where I can find them, a shared drink, and a toast to warm memories.

    “It came without ribbons. It came without tags. It came without packages, boxes or bags. And he puzzled and puzzled ’till his puzzler was sore. Then the Grinch thought of something he hadn’t before. What if Christmas, he thought, doesn’t come from a store. What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?” (Dr. Seuss, How the Grinch Stole Christmas!)

    At least, he thinks it used to.

    Be well, everyone.

    Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather
  • Life

    I hate being told what to do…

    Facebooktwitterrssyoutubeby featherMost people do, I think, and maybe that’s just part of the way our society has developed over the last hundred years or so. Orders and commands have their places, but those are places I’ve agreed to, mainly at work, and sometimes training in the dojo.

    I’ve consented to the job I’m in, the boss I have, the place I work. If I ever choose to withdraw that consent, then I have the free will to look for a new job, either on my own or after my boss expresses their free will by withdrawing their consent to continue paying me.

    I’ve consented to follow instructions when I’m being taught in a martial arts setting, and sometimes when I’m teaching as well. I’m conscious that I’ve consented to be at the front of the room sometimes, and that the students I’m helping have consented to taking instructions from me. But I have consented to take instruction, and if I withdraw that consent, there’s no reason for me to be there, because I won’t be a very good student or teacher, and probably no one will want to teach me or learn from me.

    But outside of the consent I’ve given, I don’t like being told what to do, especially when someone is trying to tell me what to think or how to act. I haven’t consented to that. And I won’t.

    Ask me a question that makes me think, however, and not only will I think, I’ll be happy about it. Follow that question with other questions and reasoned propositions and we can probably have an interesting discussion that may or may not end with one or both of us modifying our opinion on something.

    But tell me what to think, what to do, what to believe, and the best result you can hope for is that I mentally dismiss you as an idiot and walk away. Best result, mind you.

    This might be a big part of why a lot of ideologies and religions are dying. They demand adherents adhere not because of convincing arguments or reasoned explanations, but merely because they demand it. You don’t get to question or discuss, just do/think/believe such-and-such because you’re told to.

    Not really a winning hearts and minds kind of strategy, is it?

    Blind obedience is quickly becoming not a thing, which just makes the ones who want it demand it even louder, maybe because they know they never deserved it in the first place and they’re afraid we’ve realized that.

    Be well, everyone.Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmailby feather