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Sunday, May 14, 2017

Opinions

The dictionary definition of opinion is:
a :  a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter We asked them for their opinions about the new stadium.
b :  approval, esteem I have no great opinion of his work.
2
a :  belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge a person of rigid opinions
b :  a generally held view news programs that shape public opinion
3
a :  a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert My doctor says that I need an operation, but I'm going to get a second opinion.
b :  the formal expression (as by a judge, court, or referee) of the legal reasons and principles upon which a legal decision is based The article discusses the recent Supreme Court opinion.

Opinions are often personal. I liked this movie, I didn't like that book. When we write reviews about products, books, movies, songs, albums, etc we are sharing our opinion of the product with others. Did we hate it, was it meh, did we like it but not love it, or are we raving about it because it's so amazing?

So why is it, that when we're expressing our opinion first, or only writing it online, we have no problem being honest and frank, but when others express their opinions first, we often feel pressure to conform, or to at least modify our opinion lest we be ostracised for our differences? There's a big movement about fighting gender roles, the concept of gender as a binary, whether women should or should not wear makeup, whether a woman should control choices about her body. All of which often have strong opinions that people rarely waver from, even at the risk of being the only differing opinion in the group, regardless of what side they come down on.

But if you go see a new movie, or hear a new song on the radio with 2 friends, and 2 out of the 3 love or hate the movie/song, how likely are you to offer a differing opinion? How many times have we tempered our real opinion and lied about how someone looks because they clearly love that hideous outfit they're wearing?

Or if we're unwilling to share a differing opinion, or outright change it to the group opinion, how often do we just quietly, noncommittally agree to the opinion of the majority?

As I sit here I think back to going to the movies with my husband, his father, and his brother. I thought it was the dumbest movie I had ever seen. The three of them thought it was amazing. When asked what I thought I shrugged and said it was decent and just let them discuss while I stayed quiet. I didn't want to voice my opinion that the movie was fucking horrible and stupid because I was the only one in the group who thought so. It brought on doubts. Was there something that I was unable to grasp about the movie? Did I miss some epiphany I should have had? Was I not smart enough to get this movie that was supposed to be one of those edgy, artsy films?

The answer: no. There was nothing wrong with me. I have nothing against edgy, artsy films. But in my opinion the film was neither edgy nor artsy. I was disappointed. I had read some reviews online and overall this film had been well received. But...after seeing it, I couldn't understand. I'm a contrary person by nature, but this wasn't driven by that. I genuinely thought the film was a steaming pile of crap. Did that mean that something was wrong about the people who loved it? No. Absolutely not.

Why? Because opinions are personal. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. You are not, however, entitled to force your opinion on others. You are not allowed to use your opinion or beliefs for that matter, to infringe on the rights of others.

When I write reviews, I'm brutally honest. When directly asked for my opinion on things like food, outfits, etc I will also be brutally honest. But when it comes to things being discussed in a group, like movies or books or restaurants, unless I have strong feelings about the subject, I will often just be as quiet as possible. I don't like drawing attention to myself, so I often hide my differing opinions when I don't feel passionate about them when it comes to discussing them in a group.

But it's time for me to make a change. I know it won't happen overnight. But I need to start having more confidence in myself. If they love me, they aren't going to start hating me because I don't like that movie they absolutely love, or that restaurant they think as food to die for. So it's time to start speaking up, and stop blending in all the time. I'm almost 30, and I'm so afraid of being singled out, or deemed the picky one, that I go as much with the flow as I can when it comes to most things. If I can kick the toxic people out of my life and tell them exactly what I think of them, then why can't I say I hate that movie?