Sunday, September 4, 2011

Everyone has an opinion

...but not everyone can offer valid proof and evidence to support their opinions. Or the proof they do offer is of dubious origin, lies or urban legends among other things. And normally this is not a problem as everyone should have the right to openly express their opinions in my opinion. Heck, I know I have ideas and opinions that many other people cannot necessarily understand or agree with but the joy of being able to express them is rare in many parts of the world and should be appreciated by those who have that ability.

In some ways, that is why I have this blog. It offers me an opportunity to express ideas and opinions to a wide range of people who then have the option to read and either agree, disagree or even argue with me over them. However, to paraphrase one of my favorite quotes regarding the internet - well, I saw it on the internet so it *must* be true! That statement is very apropos when discussing blogs in particular as it is usually rather difficult to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to what you read online. In my own case, I tend to read various news sources to get my news - regional, national and international as well as from varying political angles. The great majority of those news sites are reputable (if not always deliberately propagandistic as in the case of certain sources from countries with less than free media) and there is a clear distinction between news and editorial commentary. And I do read the editorial commentary but at least I have the knowledge to distinguish facts from opinions.

I read very little in the way of blogs when it comes to facts. There are a few I read and most of those have very deliberate political opinions but I read them for what they are - opinions with occasional facts thrown in. I have one favorite that I have mentioned here before - Seeing Red in China - by an American living in China who does the best of any I have yet come across at explaining life in everyday China, without undue praise or criticism, to people who may otherwise never get to experience it. But it is still a blog with the opinions of a single individual and his experiences.

I was recently treated to the antithesis of that blog by another China-related blogger posting ideas that minimized responsibility for Mao for things that happened during his time in power. Against my better judgment, I responded asking for more info to support the writer's hypothesis and instead received the sort of conspiracy theory spouting that is, in my experience, far more common to blog writers who can write whatever they want without any sort of vetting prior to publication as would take place at more reputable news media or research outlets. In the end, I stopped responding as it was simply generating troll-like responses from others on the blog and, quite frankly, I have much less patience for that than I have when I was younger. While I was frustrated by the negative power of such ideas, not to mention the power of the internet to spread such bad ideas with no proof to support them, it did serve to remind me that I am still fairly lucky to not be inundated with such tripe and that hopefully the good will still outweigh the bad when it comes to the power of ideas and the internet.

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