Quiet Desperation

Everyone is ready with an opinion, and the world is no better for it

Column by Craig Marshall Smith
Posted 4/24/17

Let's say a 69-year-old man is forcibly volunteered off of an airplane, and he's a doctor, a father, a grandfather, he's Chinese, maybe there are some skeletons in his closet, and you have an opinion …

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Quiet Desperation

Everyone is ready with an opinion, and the world is no better for it

Posted

Let's say a 69-year-old man is forcibly volunteered off of an airplane, and he's a doctor, a father, a grandfather, he's Chinese, maybe there are some skeletons in his closet, and you have an opinion about it. Snap.

It's never been easier to let other people know what you are thinking, and no one is holding back.

As soon as someone, let's say a White House spokesperson, puts his foot in his mouth, posts and tweets are all over it.

What is in it for the poster? Social media and the internet give the illusion that your opinion matters.

Having your thoughts made visible for a potential audience of millions - worldwide - is very alluring. It can be done easily, cleanly, and privately.

They are little hit-and-run commentaries that once were reserved for paid commentators.

Your opinions can be right there next to theirs now.

It becomes progressive, like graffiti. One post leads to another to another.

I think - it's just a hunch - that we're all fed up. We're fed up and feeling helpless.

A nocturnal tweet is better than warm milk. Get something off your chest, and crawl in bed. At least you said something, even if you can't do anything about it.

I limit myself to this column, which is plenty. I am not on social media. I was, briefly, and it was unpleasant.

There are trolls who shame, and for some of them, it's a calling and a career.

If a celebrity, for example, posts a photograph that can be found in any way to be objectionable, look out.

What I don't understand are the disbelieving reactions when someone gets shamed.

This is America. It's what we do.

Post almost anything and it's a piñata for every imaginable configuration of insight and intelligence.

All people, deep down, are not good. There are busloads of the other kind.

Can you see Gandhi on a smartphone? Nope.

But if images of him in his khadi wrap were posted, it's Katy bar the door.

I don't know why people continue to be so trusting. There may be some faith-based root in it that I don't have.

Maybe teaching gave that to me.

Students turned on a dime, if they didn't get the grade they wanted, or if they had an untoward agenda.

One anonymously wrote with a Sharpie on my office door. I was the problem, why she couldn't draw. Not her inability to know which end of a pencil to sharpen.

Then she took to campus-wide emails.

Learning when to zip your lips is no longer being taught.

My alma mater is afflicted with someone who won't shut up.

He has three sons, and they all play basketball. He is embarrassing the school, his sons and himself, but he doesn't care.

In fact, he is rolling around in his own comments like a backyard dog in its own scat.

The catch is that his sons are good, and the team wins, and in sports that's what matters.

Dr. David Dao boarded a flight in Chicago. All he wanted to do was what we all want to do. Go home.

Not so fast, doctor.

An opinion is a judgment founded on probabilities. Or not.

Craig Marshall Smith is an artist, educator and Highlands Ranch resident. He can be reached at craigmarshallsmith@comcast.net.

Craig Marshall Smith

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