“We live in an era in which it is important to have opinions. Not necessarily smart or original ones; almost any opinion will do as long as it’s forcefully expressed.
“We post them on Facebook; we tweet them. It wasn’t that long ago that opinions were something carefully considered and weighed so they’d reflect well on the author. Thinkers were like gourmet chefs labouring over an elaborate meal they wanted to perfect. But today, opinions are like Big Macs – thrown together hastily, served by the billions.”
Stephen Randall wrote this in the Los Angeles Times and I can’t help but nod and agree with him.
We’ve developed this throwaway comment culture and we’ve seen it live in action many times. One perfect example was when Katie Price went on a Twitter rant after making critical comments about her ex Peter Andre. She posted a string of tweets along the lines of: “Come on all you people who slag me off an hate me get it off your chest”.
Comedian Sean Lock denounced Twitter users in an episode of Graham Norton a few months back, saying that it had made a lot of them unable and incapable of deal with their own thoughts and opinions.
He said that whenever a person felt a thought or opinion simmering up into their mind, they felt an instant need to get it off their chests and would whip out their phone or laptop and hastily craft it into 140 characters and hit ‘Tweet’. He said that this made them feel relieved and helped them cope in the short term, until another thought or opinion suddenly buzzed up, which they would deal with in the exact same way.
Scan through Twitter, and you can see this in action – people spill out their brains to produce a hubbub of extraordinary attitudes.
But this process is very cyclical too – if we get replies to tweets, viewpoints retweeted, or get ‘Likes’ on Facebook, we only serve to reinforce others and ourselves to continue posting away – however pointless or interesting we feel what we have to say is.
This urge to get things out there and off our chests has made us impatient and easily frustrated too. Losing signal on our mobiles while travelling underground on the train, for example, can annoy and aggravate, as we feel cut off from these social networking sites and the other people with which we share and rely on to sustain this throwaway comment culture.
It’s funny, and a bit sickening too, to see what social networks like Twitter and Facebook have done to us!