On our commute home I noticed a long chain of white cars. I thought to myself “Man, white cars are atrocious.” Now, if I were to say this online, as I am now, you could be fairly certain that someone would try to correct me. Either they’d say “Not really, here are all the qualities of white cars.” or “That’s just like, your opinion man.” In both of these cases they miss the point entirely. Yes, it IS my opinion. Every single time someone mentions their feelings about something they are saying “this statement is valid to me.” They aren’t saying “this statement is objectively valid.” The only time this becomes untrue is when someone explicitly states otherwise.
There are some exceptions but I’d argue that most people mean their feelings to be received as feelings. I’ve been tempted to log the responses I get in comment sections based on whether or not I implicitly say “to me” or “in my opinion”. Naturally it is up to confirmation bias but I have found that nearly every time when I voice a strong opinion about something but do not address it as such people get on my case. However if I voice equally strong opinions about things and end with “in my opinion, at least.” or something to that effect I find that very few, if anyone, corrects me.
I get disagreements, certainly, and agreements. But they are not voiced in a “you are wrong” fashion but rather a “interesting, here are my feelings.”
Similarly when I’m chatting with people about “strong” topics, politics, religion, etc, and we find ourselves disagreeing there is a not-insignificant chance that they’ll mention that their thoughts are just in their opinion. It’s amusing to me largely because I assumed that from the beginning. Obviously these things are their opinion. They are not restating facts about the universe, they are telling me about their personal beliefs.
I don’t know why it is that people seem determined to make things a statement of fact. I wonder if it is to facilitate arguments or perhaps to bolster a sense of offense. Clearly a wrong must be righted and if I assume this person is oppressing my feelings then I have someone to defeat.
More than once I’ve had folks say “So and so won this.” When there was nothing to win. I stated my feelings on game X, and they stated their feelings on game X. One’s feelings does not make the other’s invalid. At best they might be able to give the person a new view on the topic but they do not invalidate their feelings. The idea is somewhat stupid to assume and it really fosters the wrong goal for discourse.
When people discuss topics they shouldn’t be looking to win. They should be looking to enrich themselves. Perhaps that enrichment will come from reinforcing their own beliefs, perhaps it will come from finding new angles on those beliefs, but it shouldn’t be about “defeating” the other person.
Because by the end of a “victory” you’ve likely only shut the other person off. Their views have not changed, your sense of righteousness is ill gotten, and the world does not get any better. I’m sure there are exceptions to this, after all, this is just my thoughts on the matter now, at this exact moment in time.
You know, to me.