Monday, 3 November 2014

Crowdsourced post #1: "Is individual opinion dead?"

It was more than a month ago when I opened my blog and invited suggestions from the readers and the occasional visitors on what they'll like me to blog on. As expected, the scheme was a sham with such a poignant outcome that for the first time since buying a domain, I had to infuse capital into the blog. I went for Google AdWords and a few hits started popping in. I was hopeful I'd get the kind of ideas that will make me wade through the upcoming writer's block which I just felt was on the way. Finally though, on all interaction modes combined, I got a whopping 6 entries as against an expected 25 which I thought was the bare minimum to come as a result of the innovative move and the campaign. I needed a motley all right but I needed a few ideas to come from multiple people so that I could be sure about their presence as a real thing to blog on. Damn did I imagine a joust between the different ideas, hundreds of them, vying for my attention. Nonetheless, Joanne from Prague did come up with a very interesting suggestion. She just happened to be searching for free online publishing platforms and my blog showed up. She seemed to be very frugal with words and suggested the entire idea in one line. "Is individual opinion dead?"

I couldn't come in terms with what she was trying to say. Individual opinion is everywhere to be found. In fact in a clogged up bus or a rail bogie, you'll find individual opinions in surfeit. I delved a level deep to see I was missing out on something. Joanne seems to be a taciturn as she refused to reply on the mail chain. Maybe she just wanted to get her idea across. Maybe she won't even be here when her post is published. Nevertheless, it will be published but mainly on what I could infer from the core idea. So what exactly  did she mean when she claimed individual opinion to be dead? Was it a metaphor, was it a literal observation, or was it simply something I wasn't capable of noticing. And with some contemplation, I knew it was the last reason. And maybe I and you were in the dark for the very ways in which maybe individual opinion, in the true sense of the term, was quashed forever.



Look around you. People are blabbering about why one guy is better able to run the government than someone else. Someone is flaunting their latest gadget, with conceit for it being better and more expensive than that of anyone else in that group. Someone is passing on a judgment on someone's attitude. And there is this guy, fluidly talking with the pretense of being squeaky clean, while chastising and pointing fingers at someone else. The question is, who would you believe in? The answer is, you've already believed someone or the other before you could even think about it for a moment. 

As the world becomes a more connected place, not only courtesy of webs and webs of technological networks, but even as social barriers and apprehensions go loose and people mingle more and more; influence has become the key. While initially an influencer was a person with commanding authority over a topic or matter, now he/she is just the most assertive figure in the circle. Why would you buy them? Well, because you don't have time to hunt for the truth yourself. And it seems like it's hardwired within us to be opinionated at the end. We just have to take a stand to save ourselves from the embarrassment if someone asks for it and we don't have anything to say. Even if the subject doesn't concern us at all. What matters the most is that you can't squat on any question. You just have to have an opinion. Sometimes you are close to the topic and you build one but on most occasions the topic doesn't concern you very much and you don't have the time to ponder. What do you do then? You buy an opinion from the omnipresent market available everywhere. And why bother when they're there for free!

Simultaneously, for matters that are big enough to sustain the wrath of those million other subjects vying for attention, collective opinion shapes out of the most substantial of the individual opinions that were formed in the beginning. In absence of anything that refutes this newly formed group owned opinion, people don't see any mendacity and go for it. And hence without any genuine premise, one initial stand and one initial opinion go on to become that of the masses. The opinion bypasses the frontiers of human judgment and scrutiny and by the time the more sagacious folks could raise their voice, the opinion has already grown prodigious enough. And now it's even larger than the very process of it being rebutted or questioned. The opinion of the group is now sacrosanct and for the easy goer who never really questions a lot, adopting this group opinion as against going for that of the newly emerged questioning pariah, is much more comforting. And thus before you could know, you form an individual opinion which you puff your chest for whenever you talk about it, believing it's purely yours, while you actually borrowed it from the human conscience, which took it from the initial group, which in turn took it from those first few influencers. Bingo!

What's critical in this entire process is the position and intent of the influencers. If the influencers are ardent followers of a prudent thought process, healthy opinions prevail and everyone benefits, as opposed to the discordance that used to exist in the past when even the unintelligible ones had their own conflicting opinions without knowing much about the reality or the subject. However in the wake of the smart businesses, a potentially disastrous scenario awaits. What if the influencers simply further their agenda? Well, they'll become gods out of nowhere! While many may have to bear the brunt of time and struggle to arrive at the zenith, these guys will soar to success in no time. All they need is one wild ride on the tide of their induced opinions. While their lack of experience will extenuate the situation because they'll fail sooner or later and will be evicted, it's imperative to note how the entire system will get infected with this set of extremely rapid risers. Those who'll conquer the frontiers of human scrupulousness in no time at all. Those who'll fool humans and then rub grime on their face. I guess we've got a few examples already. We've got many one time wonders who simply took everyone by surprise through their bravado and then faded away. Till now, they've been limited in number relative to those who really deserved their position. Imagine what will happen when the situation will turn around! 

I hope I did justice to the idea. It's there for Joanne to decide,who I guess could have already cleared her browser history to know which blog she accidentally hopped on a few days ago. Anyways, do pour in your opinions on what you think of this raucous rambling.

Want to contribute an idea? You're welcome to do so here -> Crowdsourcing on Disavowed