Friday, November 23, 2018

'Freedom from Opinion'

Those with fervently held opinions tend to be convinced of their importance, though some of us understand that opinions are as disposable as Kleenex. Please, don’t tell me your opinion. Tell me what you know, assuming you know anything and that it holds some interest. On Thanksgiving Day, a reader begging for a fight dismissed that day’s post as “a waste of time about a bad poet.” It’s a mistake to engage with people who have no interest in reasoning and exchanging thoughts. Every parent of young children knows this. It’s never about the content of such comments but the dense atmosphere of self-centeredness pushing on them from the inside. The pathologically opinionated are overflowing with what Charles Gullans in “Research” (Letter from Los Angeles, 1990) calls “terrors of trivia.” Angry tedium, like pressurized gas, must be released. Theodore Dalrymple is writing about the ridiculous, soft-headed resurgence of witchcraft (he calls it the “selfie of the soul”) but he speaks for many of us:

“Thanks to so-called social media, we have lost one of the most cherished freedoms of all, namely that of freedom from opinion.”

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