Many people are afraid to speak their minds on issues and are more afraid to say something that is contrary to what is considered popular opinion. People are harassed for their opinions, and people are socially or virtually ostracized for holding opinions that are contrary to what the popular opinion may dictate.
Popular opinion is a collection of similar opinions shared by many people on specific issues. Opinions can be formed by watching, reading or hearing information that may be factual, lie or half-truth from an influential or un-influential platform. If the information is a manufactured lie released for manipulative purposes, the truth may come trailing after, sometimes almost unnoticed. Popular opinion can come in a form to blackmail and to cancel other opinions which people may see as not in tandem with the approved popular opinion.
Thomas Carlyle said that, “Popular opinion is the greatest lie in the world.”
Democracy is touted as the best practicable way to have peoples’ representation as well as according people the latitude to say their mind freely on issues and policies. Freedom of speech is a fundamental right as well as constitutional right but the freedom to speak one’s mind does not afford one the authority to say things beyond that which will attack another person’s right to free speech as well.
As human beings, graced with the ability to think for ourselves, it is also relevant to hold opinions. It is a compendium of our thoughts and beliefs and our judgments and an appraisal of how we view certain concepts, happenings around us and expression of our experiences and our attitude towards issues.
Many people in recent times find it difficult to express their views in order not to contravene the opinion popularly shared or risk being ostracized. It is difficult to comprehend as it is becoming a popular culture. People are put to shame and heckled for holding a particular view on an issue. Some call it cancel culture. It is totalitarian, absolutist and tyrannical exercise of muzzling opinions. It is intended to shut up people’s voices and a way to elevate some opinions. It is a situation where any viral but loud opinions are considered truth and the actual truth is blotted. It is a situation where one spends time modifying a thought to suit the opinion acceptable to the public and it is often a living lie. Truth these days is like a lone voice in the wilderness that many people have chosen to stay quiet rather than offer their opinions to state the facts in order to counter the popular lie. In popular opinion, facts are obscured and sometimes are revised.
People who claim to hold the truth may in fact hold a revised truth that are sold to them or consider it suitable to their narrative. People who find themselves in the midst of holding the opinion termed as popular, regard themselves as important.
Because people no longer have the patience to question things, interrogate any narrative, they are easily captured in the web of any opinion that is considered popular and they have become victims of narrative manipulators who milk their minds to advance any and all narratives that they want to sell. An unquestioned generally held opinion becomes overtime an accepted narrative but rather than cancelling or subduing opinions because of disagreeing with them, holding a conversation and debate becomes a tenable option. In debates, opinions are interrogated but in popular opinion, debates sometimes have no room.
Cancelling people because of their views is also a way of censoring them. When the bearer of the opinion is regarded as a nobody, whatever his opinion may be, is discarded but any message worth listening to should be interrogated.
Popular opinions are also positively influential as it sometimes tears down the walls of the obstinately held public views that have seemed unquestionable or impenetrable. It seeks to bring down several policies and government induced laws that will affect the lives of people. It has kept politicians and other public workers in check and recognizes that the peoples’ opinions matter in the public service. It enforces peoples’ interests. Popular opinion has its negative and positive implications on society.
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