Before the internet, the step from ones opinion being something only those around one were exposed to being a matter of public record was quite a large one; to attain a wider audience requires publication in a newspaper or some other public media. Even then, a letter in the newspaper was usually ephemeral, memoral mainly to the parties involved; unless uttered by a celebrity, the currency that the average person's expressed opinion would likely make on the world was limited. The space between the pub or college debating team and being Morrissey or Bill Clinton was vaste. And, mostly, it still is.
But does it feel like that to the average citizen of the internet?
I can now publish my opinion on a medium that is potentially accessible to most people. Yes, the chances are that two people are reading this blog post, but potentially, with-out any further publication, it could reach billions. You don't even need to understand English; the internet will translate it for you. You don't even need to be able to read (though it helps); the internet can find it for you and then read it to you. But, mostly, that won't happen.
Well. Before the internet, I think that we perhaps had a better sense of our scale in the scheme of things. If I said something in my local pub, the ripples it made were unlikely to extend beyond irritation at the surrounding tables. Now, one can find oneself pilloried around the world. And possibly agreed with and adored, though more likely pilloried.
And we're all aware of it.
Perhaps this has gone to our collective heads. My opinion on what some-one on the other side of the world writes suddenly matters. Suddenly, one person can make a difference. One has to press the like button on posts I agree with. One has to public chastise persons with an unacceptable point of view.
There's a subtle pressure to have, and express, an opinion on everything.
Perhaps it's given us performance anxiety.
In this world of near universal access to so many of our expressed thoughts, good manners, perhaps, are more important than ever. Somebody out there is saying something that I think is wrong, or stupid; is my saying so likely to make them think again, or likely to make them angry? Is it necessary that we agree on everything? Those are questions more than opinions.
Peace out, brothers and sisters.