Opinions, Opinions, Opinions

We all have our own opinions on things. Since humans were able to form thought patterns and then articulate them to other humans, we have had opinions. And that’s great. The problems come when some people are convinced that others want to hear those opinions, regardless of whether those opinions are offensive, ill-informed and based on nonsense.

Before the Internet, these people had to make do with writing letters to newspapers, or Points Of View (so they could have Terry Wogan, or a random voice artist to read out their drivel). But since the proliferation of the World Wide Web, the opportunities have exploded. Web forums, Comment sections, Blogs (guilty as charged, Your Honour), and Twitter are just a few places allowing us to spew forth our feelings on whatever subject takes our fancy, whether it relates to the subject or not.

As a regular visitor of the BBC website, a web site called www.football-shirts.co.uk, and also a regular Twitter user, I come across quite alot of ridiculous comments by people hiding behind stupid user names pretending to know what they’re talking about.

Being most interested in sport, and football in particular, I quite often chuckle as these people argue amongst themselves and descend to childish insults over things which, ultimately, don’t matter. The other website is one where people post pictures of new and rumoured football kits, and other people then come and say whether they like it or not. You get the odd logical comment, but mostly it’s people ranting about the benefits of one manufacturer against another, which then moves on to the teams, and down from there! For example…

http://www.football-shirts.co.uk/fans/nike-arsenal-yellow-away_18080

http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/21613783

The BBC makes the grave error of giving these people the opportunity to clog the pages with this rubbish, and there are regular posters claiming to have access to facts and what-have-you to back up their opinion, only for someone else to come along and use other ‘facts’ to disprove them.

And of course, there is the behemoth that is Twitter. It amazes me that even now, people still haven’t realised that a small off-colour remark can cause the greatest of fall-outs and upset. The presence of famous people only serves to increase the nuisance quota. Remember the Tom Daley incident? The fools in the Fabrice Muamba furore? Even when Welsh Football Manager Gary Speed took his own life, there was a number of people who felt it wise to make tasteless, nasty comments about him and his family.

True, these people were reported to police for their vile comments, but the whole thing was made worse by Twitter. The countless re-tweets of the original comments, the trending hashtag, then the returned vitriol of the sane majority. Ultimately, it always ends in the originator making a grovelling apology, blaming various pressures (like the kid who said he only said what he did because he was disappointed that Tom Daley hadn’t won a medal – pathetic or what?).

I have seen a few incidents where people have tweeted celebrities and turned to abuse when no reply was forthcoming, or as recently as this week, a chap asked Masterchef eater-extraordinaire and general-all-round-nice guy Gregg Wallace to retweet his charity fundraising event. Now, all Mr Wallace did was to correct the guy on how his name was spelt (note the extra ‘G’), and then it descended to abuse from the first chap, and then, as it re-tweeted, and more people got hold of it, the whole thing snowballed into random, unrelated folks inundating Gregg with abuse and pathetic name calling. Then sanity returned, and the messages of support came flooding in. And reading Gregg’s tweets, he actually made the effort to reply and thank people for their support (albeit briefly, bless him). And the one thing that people lost sight of was that he hadn’t refused to promote the chap’s page, just asked him to spell his name right! As a Jonathan, I’ve seen my name spelt so many different ways (there are so many variables!), but for Gregg, it’s an added ‘G’ – it’s not hard, especially when you just have to read his Twitter ID. Ultimately, the grovelling apology came, with the blame laid fully at the feet of Apple and their bloody annoying ‘Auto-correct’.

I’ve tweeted numerous celebrities on various subjects, and rarely if ever have they replied. But, do you know what? I don’t care. They’re busy people, getting messages from every Tom, Dick and Harry asking for something or other. They can’t reply to everyone can they? They’d never get anything done.

So, next time you’ve got an opinion on something, stop for a moment and think: Does anyone else need to hear what I’ve got to say? Will the world feel enriched for my wisdom? Or will the Earth stop turning if I don’t let it out?!

If the answer is Yes, then you’re either misguided, self-involved, or a politician.

If you have anything to say on this subject, feel free to keep it to yourself!!

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