They say it is always better to give than to receive. Particularly if you are incarcerated in a prison cell with three burly men serving long sentences for sexual offences. It’s especially true of Christmas presents where, of course, there’s nothing worse than receiving the ‘wrong’ gift. Personally, I pride myself on giving people things they might actually want and enjoy. Over the years I’ve become quite good at it – there’s no secret to it, just listen to people over the course of the year and you’ll usually end up with a pretty good idea of what they might want. These days I tend to give more Christmas presents than I receive so, thankfully, I very rarely have the awkwardness of the ‘wrong’ present syndrome. But whilst giving is better than receiving when it comes to Christmas gifts, the same doesn’t apply to advice and opinions. We live in an age when, thanks to the internet and social media, it is possible for anyone and everyone to thrust their advice and opinions in everyone else’s faces. Everywhere I go on the web these days there are people telling me what I should think about books, films or TV series, what I should laugh at, why I’m not allowed to find certain things funny and why I’m not permitted to take certain political stances.
It was bad enough when the only places you were subjected to this were newspapers, but somehow they’re more easily dismissed. Besides, who ever took any notice of what journalists say, anyway? But then they started having radio phone ins where any bigot could call in and get their ignorant and ill-informed opinions on the air. But the web makes it all seem inescapable, especially as every device we own now seems to have connectivity. You can’t even avoid this stuff if you refuse to engage with the likes of Facebook and Twitter. Every bloody news story on sites ranging from local to national newspaper sites are followed by pages of ‘comments’ which consist of nothing but idiocy and bile. It doesn’t matter what the subject matter of the article is, the moronic commentary is the same: ‘opinions’ that no reasonable person should be subjected to. Mind you, the articles themselves are increasingly less to do with being informative about a particular subject, more about telling us who clever, wonderful and important the author is. That’s what I find so wearing – these bastards all seem so cocksure of themselves and present their opinions as fact, making clear that if you disagree with them you aren’t just wrong, but you are also a moron/fascist/communist/reactionary/misogynist/child molester (delete as is applicable to the subject matter of the article/tweet/comment/facebook page).
It’s not as if they are interested in engaging in any form of reasonable debate. The beauty of the web is that it allows you to talk at people rather than to them. All-in-all, going on the web these days is depressingly like going to the pub – both involve the risk of exposing oneself to ignorance and non-conversation on a massive scale. In fact, the pub has gotten so bad these days that on my increasingly rare visits there, I hide behind a newspaper in an attempt to ward off unwelcome attempts at social engagement by morons. I’m adopting a similar approach to the web – ignore social media, comment sections, most blogs (especially those written by unpublished writers with degrees in creative writing) and everyone on Twitter. I mean, what makes all these people think that anyone wants to hear their advice and opinions? What makes them think that their opinions are in any way worthwhile? These are the questions I ask myself ever more frequently. I’ve come to the conclusion that I have no burning desire to foist my opinions on others. Sure, I rant about various things over on Sleaze Diary, but at least that’s my own ‘territory’ so to speak – I don’t go spreading them all over the web via social media and the like. Over here at The Sleaze I at least have the decency to disguise my opinions as satire. Otherwise, I really don’t feel that I have any particular right to go around telling people what to think. At the end of the day, my attitude is that these are my opinions, like them or not, and you are free to disagree, but I’m really not interested in arguing the toss. If I choose to change my opinions, it will be on the basis of my own researches and experience, not because someone on Twitter who is no better qualified than me on the subject tells me I’m wrong.
Not only do I not wish to force my opinions on others or presume to give them advice, but I also have no desire whatsoever to tell people what to do. What gives me the right to do that? Who says that I know better than anyone else? Which is why I’m not a boss and my ‘career’ is non-existent. The bottom line is that I feel no need to demonstrate my supposed superiority and cleverness all the time. I know how smart I am and feel no need to continually ‘prove’ it by spewing out an endless stream of ‘opinions’ via social media. But I fear that I’ve strayed from the point that I had originally intended to make in this editorial. I started off talking about Christmas and had intended to move onto the subject of New Year and New Year’s resolutions. I’ve made clear elsewhere that I have little time for New Year’s resolutions – they’re made in haste (not mention an alcoholic haze) and are rarely kept. They’re usually wildly over ambitious. However, I think I’ve set out a good basis for some sensible resolutions already – namely to be less opinionated and to pay less attention to the relentless opinion-giving of others. Indeed, I think that we should all make a consolidated effort to discourage others from giving their opinions or advice at every opportunity.
The time for opinions and advice is between trusted friends. That’s when they count, when there can be a sensible exchange of ideas based upon mutual respect. All of which brings me, in a roundabout way, to my main resolution for 2013 – to be a better friend. Not to everyone, but to one person in particular. Of all my friends and acquaintances, there is one that I like the best. The sad thing is that in recent years I really haven’t done enough to keep in touch with them – texts at birthdays and religious holidays really don’t cut it. So, I’m resolving to make a proper effort in the next year to communicate properly with this individual, to listen to them and make sure that they know how much I like and respect them and how much I value their opinions. I’m sure that we all have someone in our lives we’ve similarly undervalued or taken for granted, so, and this is just a suggestion, why not also resolve to be a better friend to them in 2013? OK, that’s all for now. Until the next time, just remember, if you disagree with any of this then you are wrong!