Everywhere you look on the internet, it seems like there is a right answer. It may be difficult to find at first, but it’s likely found in the form of a “ratio” underneath a hot take tweet. Whatever form your media consumption takes, there are probably people arguing somewhere about something. There is also usually someone who comes out on top in the argument, with the points in the game measured through likes and majority agreement.
When someone “wins” online, it is implied that the winner is right, and every other opinion is wrong. In fact, if you stray away from the internet’s consensus, you face the possibility of being ratio’ed yourself. This works well for shutting uneducated opinions down, but it has created a problem when issues need to be looked at with nuance. The problem is, depending on what side of the internet you are on, a take in one circle could be completely accepted but the same take could be completely shut down in another.
A lack of nuance in political opinions is a contributing factor to the increased polarization we’ve experienced in the past few years. When we don’t even attempt to understand where someone with an opinion different than our own is coming from, it creates an animosity and barbarizes anyone who even slightly disagrees with us.
Couple this with the fact that so many people believe whatever is the most popular opinion they see the majority of people agree with on social media, we are beginning to look like political opinion robots.
Stop just regurgitating opinions you see on the internet. Actually look at and think about these problems under the considerability that the issues are very likely more complex than right or wrong. Sometimes you will be right, but it’s not the end of the world if you are wrong. It’s careless to follow the majority opinion and bandwagon what you think off of what you see inside of what is likely your own personal internet echo chamber.
The difficulty in making issues black and white continues if you take a stance or opinion that falls in the gray area, people face the possibility of being coupled entirely in agreement with one side by the opposing side. This is a tactic some use to keep others from disagreeing with them. It usually works when people are afraid of developing opinions that could rock the boat or cause people in their circle to disagree with them.
The issue runs even deeper when you consider that we don’t even choose our own echo chamber – algorithms do that for us. This ought to make us even more privy to stepping outside of the opinions we constantly see and applying some critical thought to what we read online.
There is also an issue on the internet of seeing something that people say and automatically assuming they are correct or have done their research, because that usually isn’t the case. If someone seems like they’re just regurgitating something they saw someone else say it’s probably because they are.
Form your own opinions. They might be different from your friends or colleagues; they’re supposed to be. Opinions are meant to make people think about issues in a deeper way than they currently do. If we all fall in the same camp for long enough, then when we start to disagree we won’t know how to speak out. It is pertinent that we say what we believe and think for ourselves.
Mikayla Rochelle is a graduate student studying public administration at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. What are your thoughts? Tell Mikayla by tweeting her at @mikayla_roch.