Pining for genuine opinions

A friend of mine was honoured with a place on the homepage recently with his blogpost on Dating Blogs and how they were self-indulgent (his post can be found here: DATING – FINE. WRITING ABOUT IT – NOT FINE. – by Josh Landy. It, and the rest of his blog, are well worth reading). It’s a post filled with some quite strong opinions on people who blog the minutiae of their dating lives for the consumption of the online community.

The way some people reacted to his blog raised my hackles, and so I wanted to write about a particular ‘pet hate’ of my own. I feel that a large number of people do not know the difference between expressing their own opinion and condemning someone else’s as wrong. If I had a pound for every time I have heard people say (and, in this modern world, seen people write) that someone is “wrong” for thinking a certain thing, I’d have no concern as to how I was going to pay my fees at law college.

Personally, I don’t think my opinion is any more or less valid than anyone else’s. How could I? I might think that the thought that has gone into my opinion is deeper or less deep than that which has gone into theirs; I might feel that their opinion offends me, either directly or indirectly, or that it might offend others. But how can I proclaim that someone is wrong for writing or saying what they think? I feel that this is where a great deal of hostility is born from – people expressing their own opinions in such a dogmatic manner that it immediately causes conflict. Notice that I used the word ‘conflict’ rather than the word ‘debate’. Once one side in an argument expresses an opinion that the other side is ‘wrong’, it ceases to be a genuine debate.

The word wrong can still be used – don’t misunderstand and think that I wish to restrict its usage – but it should be preceded with the words “I believe that you are…” rather than “you are…”.

My personal opinion on Josh’s blog was that it contained within it the very characteristics he despised in others’ blogs. He complained that he disliked it when an individual spoke on behalf of a gender, and then went on to justify why he felt it acceptable to speak on behalf of Arsenal fans. I have discussed this with Josh and because we are both rational individuals, we were able to come into the discussion with open minds and full knowledge of the fact that our opinions were just that. There are many other examples, many of which have been dealt with in a fairly severe manner by “citysidewalk” on her blog, found here: You said it was love for the first time! – by citysidewalk. I actually think that “citysidewalk” goes too far in her opinions as well, launching into a personal attack that I felt was not really called for.

Many of the comments on the original post, though, say that Josh “is wrong because…” before launching into their reasons for disagreeing. I can tell that what they actually mean is that they believe his opinion to be incorrect rather than that it is innately incorrect, but I am concerned that they themselves cannot make this distinction.

I just wish there was some way I could point this out to people without it seeming as though I was telling them they were objectively wrong…

About Ashley Connick
Ashley Connick is a solicitor at an international law firm. For a full profile, please visit the "About the Author" section of the blog.

One Response to Pining for genuine opinions

  1. Sam Cook says:

    I agree with you, in general, but I think your gripe is more that language is imprecise and people’s use of it even more so. I would say an opinion such as “gays should be killed” is wrong; it’s damaging and hurtful which I would say is a pretty good definition of “wrong”.

    I think the problem is that there are in fact two definitions of the word “wrong”: that which is (factually) incorrect, and that which is (morally) incorrect. The latter is, ironically, a matter of opinion. Definitions aside I think you are correct in that in most arguments/debates the use of the word wrong will raise ire and cause more conflict than is needed.

    No matter what: an interesting post.

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