When you have Opinion Fatigue Syndrome
Whenever I am asked to give my opinion on something, I cringe. I suffer from an extreme case of Opinion Fatigue Syndrome, a condition where you get a sick feeling of dread every time someone asks for your opinion. Being a journalist adds to the pressure. It is as if I must have the information and facts to pass a comment or give an opinion on every issue under the sky: from the wildfires in Yellowknife in Canada to the green chilli price in Dhaka.
There are people who overhear or pick up from what others say and form their own vague half-baked opinions. Add to that list Facebook journalists, armchair intellectuals, micro-bloggers, and television talk show hosts. These kinds of "knowledgeable personalities" add to fear.
My best friend is one such person. She has strong views on every issue and has loads of judgement to pass. She is tired of my lack of knowledge on local and world affairs. My child calls me braindead and that no one can have a decent intellectual conversation with me, because apparently I am not aware of my surroundings.
Yes, I have no opinion about Delwar Hossain Sayeedi being called Din er Rahbar or celebrity blow-ups of Porimoni. Or on bigger issues like why poor lending practices have led banks to a high level of Non-Performing Loans (NPL), how foreign exchange market instability is causing disruption in our daily lives, and why BRT bus stops are on the wrong side of the road.
What impact will my two cents of Facebook status have on these, I wonder. What real value is there in churning out impulsive and ill-conceived opinions for the masses to wolf down?
"I said this and that, I wrote a blog on it and it is the final word on the subject" – this is the attitude of most people with strong views on social media or television talk shows. People with opinions have the authority to pass a judgement or start a public trial without considering the repercussions.
It's easier to push your opinions on the Internet, regardless of any actual comprehension, because the place is saturated with sentiments, thoughts, and judgements. A breakfast status is mandatory for your online presence – you have to jump on the bandwagon of what's brewing on that particular day to keep up with the times.
The fear of missing out (FOMO) is the reason why we need to chime in on a trending newsy topic, be it political drama (of which there is no dearth in our society) or financial fiascos. It does not matter if we do not fully understand the topic of concern.
However, I unabashedly say that I know nothing or little on any subject rocking the net yesterday, today, or tomorrow! Yes, it makes me opinionatedly challenged. For me, it's tiring to act like I know everything or to fake myself as an intellectual. While everyone is thinking something about everything, I am not. I am burnt out from listening to or giving bogus views that make little or no sense to others who pretend to listen. When I strongly believe in an issue, I need time to dig into it and then decide to talk about it.
From the point of my "disability," I clearly see that we have made the Internet or social platforms a mess where we all talk over each other and no one is benefitting or listening.
Opinions are now the definitive truth beyond which the line of reason does not run. But I am afraid of making empty noise; I feel that it makes me look more foolish than having uninformed views about anything and everything.
I suffer from Opinion Fatigue Syndrome and I think it is okay.
Raffat Binte Rashid is features editor at The Daily Star.
Views expressed in this article are the author's own.
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