Someone once said to me, ‘It must be exhausting having an opinion about everything’, and although I can’t actually remember who said it (no doubt a man), I certainly remember being offended by it.
Women have fought for the right to exercise their vocal chords and share their opinions for years, and I, therefore, feel very strongly about speaking out whenever I like in order to honour the ongoing effort. It comes as no surprise, then, that the comment got my back up, but when I actually came away from the conversation and went about my daily life, throwing a billion ‘I think’, ‘I like’ and ‘I disagrees’ into the world, I became acutely aware of how much time and energy I was wasting on forming opinions about things that actually have no effect on my life whatsoever, whilst noticing that everyone else had fallen into the same habit.
Social media, of course, has played a pivotal role in feeding our new age need to share and seek approval every second of every day (having a blog doesn’t help), and although I think it’s wonderful how many active conversations are now being had online (taking the last general election for example, where young people were more engaged in politics than ever before), I do think Zuckerberg and co. encouraging us to constantly like, share or hide irrelevant fodder every second of every day, is to the detriment of our mental health and maybe even lives.
We spend so much time sparking opinions about inane things, such as what someone had for brunch or the fact an old school friend just got engaged when, if we really gave it a minute, these things don’t really warrant an opinion. It’s a waste of headspace and all it does is pave the way for comparison. However fleeting the thought process may be, it can’t be good for you to make so many judgements calls in just 24 hours?
My issue with voicing so many opinions on a daily basis runs deeper than just this, though. Our generation of opinion sharers are in danger of being only that. We feel as though we’ve done our bit because we’ve shared yet another post by Greenpeace without actually taking action. Without donating money. Or time. I’m worried that people’s social media activity is starting to placate activism. It’s become more about what causes we’re seen to be supporting rather than what efforts we’re actually doing to in order to fire up change.
So let’s put an end to all that.
Don’t be lured into liking or commenting on reams and reams of photos and statuses all day long. Instead, make sure that before you hit like or dislike or comment on something someone’s tagged you in, hold that thumb and think for half a second about whether it’s worth your time. Not only will preserving your opinions and voice online add value to it, you’ll also be amazed at how much time and energy you save, enabling you to focus on the things that really matter. And finally, if you see something you feel strongly about – be it about animal cruelty, sustainability or mental health – do more than just share it on your Facebook feed, because although you’re creating noise, there’s a limit to how far the sound reaches – and there’s a cap on how much of an effect it can have. After all, actions really do speak louder than words.