We live in a world where everyone craves a direct side to take. We believe in absolutes, even if the gray area is clearly there and can offer a better understanding. No one likes the gray area anymore. Either something is awesome, or it sucks. No in between, no middle ground, no sitting on the fence. Either you pick a side or you shut up, that's the rules today, especially with social media.
This "Us vs. Them" mentality that has been a part of our lives forever is only amplified by Facebook, Twitter and message boards all over. Thanks to social media, everyone has a voice now, even if they shouldn't have one, and there are plenty who shouldn't have one. In any case, we're now at a point where in a world of absolutes, right and wrong, black and white, up and down, the idea of having an opinion is really a foreign concept.
Wait a minute, how is that possible? Everyone has opinions! That is anything but a foreign concept to us. You can't surf the web, turn on the TV, listen to the radio or walk down a street without hearing someone's opinion about something going on.
That's very true, but what happens when you question that person's opinion or tell them that you disagree with it? You'll likely get one of two answers:
"You're entitled to your opinion and we can agree to disagree."
"You're absolutely wrong and here's why..."
Tell me, which one of those responses have you heard more often than the other?
In a world where people crave absolutes, a person's opinion is treated as a fact to strengthen their argument, whatever it is. If you hate a movie, your opinion on why it sucks is the right one. Period. If you like a celebrity or a political figure, everyone that doesn't like them is wrong and stupid. Period.
And if you live in the gray area of not liking or disliking something, then what you say doesn't even count because it's not a position that helps either side in an argument, whatever the argument is.
This is how comment sections become war zones. All it takes is for one person to make a comment and have another one strongly disagree with it, while both are convinced that they are right no matter what. Within minutes, both will have allies liking their comments and adding their own in support, gleefully taking potshots and getting personal with the other side pretty quickly. Unless the message board or forum has rules against it, you can expect graphic language too, combined with passive-aggressiveness and in some cases outright threats, verbally and physically.
And all because we treat our opinion as fact so that we can "win" the argument.
It's scary to think that in 2016, people are less concerned about being accurate and more concerned about winning an argument. Actual facts are meaningless now because all that matters is how many people liked what you did or said, and then that number of people behind you becomes the "fact" that helps support how your opinion is right. Even if you firmly believed that the Earth was flat and you could sail off the edge of the surface, you would ignore the gargantuan amount of scientific evidence that disproves that belief and instead tout the 67 people that liked your comment about the flat Earth and agree with you as the reason why you are right. That's how ridiculous it is to call an opinion a fact.
The world has never operated in absolutes. Ever. It never will either. Absolute ideals have been created, but that doesn't mean the gray area is gone. There's nothing wrong with wading in it either. You can sit right in the middle if you want to. You can like DC and Marvel, you can like Star Trek and Star Wars, you can like Apple and Android and so on and so forth. It doesn't need to be a fight or an argument that has to be won by someone. You can come to a common ground and agree to disagree at the very least.
All you have to do is say "In my opinion..." That's it, that's all. It works so well that you can say it at the beginning or the end of whatever your opinion is, and it will successfully communicate to other people that your opinion is yours and yours alone, meaning that it exists without infringing upon others. If they have an issue with that, then that is on them but the argument won't be continued by you.
There's even Internet lingo for it: IMO or IMHO if you want to be humble about it. So now you don't even have to type out the words if you don't want to and your character limit on Twitter is safe.
It really is scary that people don't know what that phrase means anymore, or how to use it and actually mean it.