I’ve come to realize that I don’t make my sometimes controversial opinions all that public. At least these days.
In the past, I was a little shit head. My days would consist of scouring the internet like a scrap metal hoarder and crafting little mean-spirited missives to individuals I sometimes didn’t know at all. It didn’t matter if I sometimes thought my intentions were pure. Nobody walked away happy.
My fuel was a misguided level of self-certainty with a healthy dose of flippancy. I’ve never considered myself an outwardly cruel person with the intent to burn it all down. Then again, I used to not treat myself very well, which inevitably leaked through to how I treated others. An unpleasant truth that we all could do with more acknowledgment of.
So, I used to delight in blasting peoples’ sensibilities with things I knew to be the absolute, perfect, truth, that was unpalatable to the consensus opinion and sit back. In reality, I would get horribly anxious after publishing my crappy little thoughts with grandiose intent.
What if offended someone I cared about? Are my ideas impenetrable enough to withstand any and all criticism? Would I end up looking like a fool? Would I lose respect?
I can say in hindsight that the answer to all of those questions is, absolutely.
Hell, why do you think I named this blog, Innocent Ideas: Until proven guilty? It’s a neat little backdoor for me to escape through when I inevitably cross a few lines that I’m not altogether proud of.
BUT! With all this having been said, I still think it is important to publish controversy. Puppy videos, milquetoast commentaries on how everyone should just be nice, and the obligatory Trump hate are boring and obvious. Nobody learns from boring and obvious except to despise small talk with those types. Honestly, I am more offended by people writing safe opinions than those exposing what’s in their heart, as much as I may disagree with it.
My vision is not for a completely polarized society spitting hatred back and forth. It is for honest, constructive discourse. I realize this may sound somewhat wide-eyed in a world we are constantly reminded can be deceitful and destructive. But this is why, in spite of all the little hate-filled nuggets being volleyed about via social media, governments, and news conglomerates, we must keep our heads and hold ourselves to a higher standard.
There is nothing wrong with holding a controversial opinion and even telling hundreds of people about it via a silly rectangular status box on Facebook. What matters, and why I was always shitty and anxious, is the intent behind your opinion. Are you really trying to help people or are you trying to inflate yourself?
It can be attractive to perceive yourself as being on the cutting edge of controversy and all of the publicity that goes along with it. Or, these days, the paltry hits of dopamine that come from Likes and fiery comment threads. But are you actually proffering useful and well-intended advice despite it perhaps going against the grain, or are you seeking notoriety?
If the answer is the latter then you need help. But life is a long time, usually. There is time to make mistakes, offend, and lose relationships. Though you will never lose the shame, and perhaps rightfully so. The most pertinent and pervasive lessons often come with a weight of past guilt.
There is nothing wrong with holding an unsavory opinion that will lose some people along the way. That’s the nature of being a unique shape with all your particular angles instead of seeking to be an innocuous circle. What I do implore is that before you go whipping out you opinion in public, is to first ask yourself:
1) What is my intent with sharing this thought? If it’s not to help others, you are publicly masturbating. Don’t do that. And 2) Be open to the possibility that you are wrong. If you never fear being wrong it means your intentions are genuinely helpful and you will always be learning. And that, is how we make the world better.