Updated: Aug 16
Some people who live in countries where you can speak without dire repercussions, often on social media platforms, so you needn’t travel, and with a noted exception of university campuses, you needn’t be physical presence, can find themselves sharing opinions as a daily norm. Sometimes they even add trailing qualifiers to their messages, such as, “just my opinion”, because it has become assumed, that given something is an opinion, then not only is it morally, ethically, and even legally Okay to share it, but that it is most deeply and intrinsically correct. Like a religious view, why shouldn’t it have some degree of societal protection.
Personally, (listen to me, “personally”); I think very many people, after having decided what their identities are, assume, or even demand, that other people should respect them; or in fact, go further than that and validate them, actively even. Just as their many general opinions are intrinsic and true, so too must their identities be. Ignoring or trashing them, to any degree, is quite sinful, unreasonable, and heinous, they’d think.
I’m not a scholar, but loosely speaking, I think a shift has taken place in the 21st century, from an Existentialist leaning of individuals to a Postmodern like Identity Politics, with its strong and multifaceted group options.
Figurative lynch mobs both regularly and easily emerge within the internet, because of this group bias. University debating societies, hone leaders. All of them energetically protect the ideologies, but frankly, because such ideas feedback into their identities, they are more than that, they are fundamentally essential and sacred to them. Damned right they need free speech. On the other hand, the individual, albeit a difficult state to reach, is a self-contained one. Groups requires a continuous battle for the dominance of their peculiar assertions and mantras. It often involves the insistence of outer, nontangible, and nebulous thought. This can bring out the worst in people, especially as they are not in it alone. That’s why I chose the expression “lynch mob” above. It has a positive, “if you’re not with us, you’re against us” ethos.
My own position is clear. I’ve shared it in my 42 page “I am” book, and elsewhere. I’m going to add, that anybody can quickly join a group, but finding your individual self can take decades. They say, “Roman wasn’t built in a day”. I shouldn’t need to add this concluding remark, but today is very different indeed to the past.
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Truly, nothing of real value, stems from simply joining a pre-existing group.