Making a Fuss with Your Opinions

If you cannot do the same, you have no right to criticize.
You are free to have an opinion, as long as I agree with it.

Remember these tenets by heart, as they are important when venturing the cesspool that is the Indonesian internet discussion realm.

A case as a warmer:

Say that an artist uploads her work on a given social media. A few minutes later, she receives her first ‘like’. More minutes pass by. More ‘likes’ come in and the comment section is full of people praising the work of art, or the occasional Viagra ad. Amidst the many comments, a negatively-voiced one stands out. The commentator provides feedback on the piece of art. It has more than 100 replies. 70 percent of the replies are comments telling the commentator not to criticize the artist or to keep his opinions to himself, while the rest are simpletons contributing jack shit to the conversation.

Apparently, the right to criticize is reserved only by those who has similar expertise as the person — in this case, the artist. Following that logic, the layman has no right at all to criticize the artist, for the layman is in no way similar in terms of expertise as the artist. The opinion of a layman should be disregarded, often considered a blatant insult, for the layman knows nothing of the refined art of digital drawing. Similarly, those inexperienced in politics have no right to criticize government policy, despite the fact that even the layman is one of many people that will be directly affected by such policy.

It is no wonder that we can never have a fruitful discussion on the internet.

We are reluctant to engage ideas and opinions openly — basically, whoever doesn’t agree with me is against me, or we dismiss dissenting voices as “those who know nothing”. And when ideas are not discussed and opinions not engaged, both in a healthy and constructive manner, it shows a weak mind that cannot stand up to challenges.

So next time, when someone criticizes you online, unless it is an obvious troll, engage them. You need to be challenged once in a while. And when someone offers a constructive opinion, you have the choice either to consider it or not.

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