Never has it been easier to express one’s opinions than right now, with the existence of the chaotic wonder that is the Internet. With the promising lure of anonymity and the urge to shout into a void just to hear an echo back, it’s practically impossible to resist holding back your passionate views. Whether it’s about social justice or how your faves are legends who have saved 2017, someone’s got to say something about it.
And that freedom, now more than ever, has become the Internet’s biggest playground of opinions. That is, if a playground resembles more of a battleground with people constantly at each other’s throats, and allies are being made and betrayed in the blink of an eye.
It’s easier to get a hashtag to trend on Twitter, than it is to decide what’s for dinner, nowadays. Everyone’s got something to say about something, and they’re rather eager to share it, whether it’s warranted or not. It feeds into everything worth debating, and bleeds into issues not even worth discussing.
Freedom of expression, contrary to popular belief, is still more of a privilege than a right in certain parts of the world. But to those who are accustomed to being able to project their feelings without any fear of repercussions, this privilege feels a lot more like a birthright. It shows in their strong, bold statements. It shows in their unwillingness to give in and back down from the argument. It shows how possible it is to have an ideology supposedly buried in the 1940s resurface again in modern day America.
Freedom of expression has become the Internet’s double-edged sword used by anyone who’s got an opinion and access to the Internet. Freedom of expression allows those of us fortunate enough to possess it a chance to discuss important issues that plague society and talk about how to overcome these issues together. Freedom of expression is a gift that very few of us understand how to use.
While it’s not feasible to completely regulate the act of freedom of expression without completely taking out the very essence of this act, something’s got to budge. How can we participate in the narrative of world peace when we can’t stop to think for two seconds to wonder if our opinion is even necessary to put out? Or how we seem to want to take offence at someone else’s honest, if biased, opinion?
There is honestly no clean conclusion to this argument. You will be persecuted for your choice to speak out, and you will be headhunted for your decision to stay neutral. That is the nature of this playground.
You also have the choice to reach out to those at the fringes of the battlefield. The ones who were dragged there unwillingly. Those whose voices that need to be heard. The ones whom you speak for passionately, but naively, without a shred of knowledge of their own personal, unique struggles.
Freedom of expression was once a privilege, a gift that allowed us to fight for important causes. The freedom to vote, the freedom to work, the freedom to stand together as man and woman equally (all of these still ongoing fights in various parts of the world, even as I write this). Let’s not squander it with fan wars, meaningless inappropriate humour, and unwarranted insults (even if you feel them deserving of any of it).
Let’s be better.