Why I'm scared to have opinions


A fellow blogger and facebook friend, Jenny from No Reading at the Breakfast Table, wrote a piece about public school education this week. Specifically, why was everyone so upset about it, and why don't people just send their kids to public schools instead of killing themselves to go to private schools. Or something like that. Kinda sorta.

And apparently she started a bit of a something. So much so that she wrote a follow up piece about the 'aftermath' of sharing strong opinions

I know a little, teensy, tiny bit about how she feels. Sometimes I have strong opinions too. And there's nothing like feeling all keyed up about something to make you rush over to the computer, bash out your thoughts, complete with sarcasm, biting put-downs and generalisations and then click that oh-so-tempting 'Publish' button, breathe a sigh of relief, walk away and think you've done the world a massive favour by telling everyone Exactly What You Think. 

(At least, that's how it goes around here. I have no doubt Jenny is far more temperate than me and writes thoughtfully and dispassionately and knows what she's doing when she clicks Publish. )

For me, the problem comes after. You see, I crumble at the first sign of disagreement. It doesn't have to be hate. It doesn't even have to be rude. If you have even a slightly different opinion on something than I do, I find it *really* difficult to deal with.  

For about half a second once I considered going into politics but when I realised that people criticise you in public (and in private) I knew I couldn't do it.

In theory I'm all for polite disagreement and constructive argument but in practice all I'm thinking is: "Oh my goodness! You hate me! You think I'm terrible. Maybe I'm wrong. Am I wrong? I could be wrong! I should never have written it. This is a disaster. I think I just might die."  

So I get scared.

More often than I think I should be. Because to have an opinion on the internet invites disagreement, criticism and, worst of all, personal inbox messages with more explanations.

The problem, you see, with having an opinion is that in deciding on a particular view, you have to look at, sift through and reject other views. If you choose something it means you haven't chosen something else. And when other people do  choose that very something else that you didn't choose, we, or I at least, have the tendency to read judgment into it. I take other people's different opinions as a personal affront. 

The second problem is that I don't always feel equipped to defend every opinion I own. Yes, I can write, but that's a different skill from arguing. Plus I don't necessarily want to engage in debate, which is difficult when it's raging around something you've said. 

How to get over this? I'm not sure. Perhaps being aware of it and breathing through it is a good start.  Does anyone have any other great ideas (apart from never blogging anything controversial)?


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