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  • Writer's pictureBen Pechey

The Age of Opinion

You can’t eat that

You should eat that

Caffeine is good for you

Caffeine is bad for you

Too much sleep is bad for you

Sleeping more is good for you

Cancel culture is good

Cancel culture is bad

We should wear SPF everyday

Wearing SPF daily is a skincare Red Flag

Have you noticed how much of our lives are being ruled by opinions lately? Not just opinions, but opinions with implied meaning. That meaning is that we’re somehow doing life wrong.

Only the other day, I saw a TikTok that told me that toothpaste shouldn’t foam, as we’re disinfecting the oral biome, and not nourishing it effectively. I’m not a dentist, so I’m not clear on the science here. But, I do know that it made me feel bad, like somehow my oral hygiene is all wrong and as extension of that, I’m a bad person.

Now some of you will know that I’m an avid teeth cleaner, so this of course really caught me off guard. I will preface that I am naturally anxious currently operating with increased anxiety - but this kind of soft opinion based shaming has become a real trope on the internet.

There are literal media companies that have popped up in the last couple of years, that have one purpose, and that is to opinion shame. Whether we like it or not, the opinion has become one of the modern world’s main form of currency. This is all well and good, until someone takes an option too far, and allows it to be believed as fact.

This is when identity politics begin to take over, and seemingly overrule the way we are living out lives. The opinion can no longer be expressed with any hope of staying personal - we live in the internet ere - opinions are now social media fodder that overshadows all other content in ways that scare me as an educator.

The gradient graphic has become the ‘it’ way of speaking to audiences in the last 18 months. Even I will happily share them in my own content. When used correctly, with real fact checked information, the gradient graphic can do a lot of good. Yet, in the age of the opinion, I am seeing lots more gradient graphics blurring the lines of fact and opinion.

I have been writing on the internet for years, and never forget being told by someone to look for more than once source of the same information - to show clear evidence of fact. In the age of the option many ‘resources’ do not stand up to a fact check. Yet, is it up to us as consumers do fact check ourselves?

Well on a simple keep it to yourself, let it change nothing kind of approach - yes this is fine. Yet, most of us talk about what we consume, read and watch. So when we are sharing opinions that through the Chinese whispers of social media story re-shares becomes fact - it should be up to us to fact check the information we are sharing - and spot when options are pretending to be facts!

Oh and about that toothpaste opinion - the reason they foam is to show that they are working in our mouths - and are harmless for the user, playing a very minor role in the work of a fluoride based toothpaste - so nothing to actually worry about there!!

Shot by Ruth Pechey


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