These days you are nobody to anybody if not equipped with a matched set of opinions in complementary colours. It is easy, but not satisfactory, to bump along with a ragtag collection of opinions haphazardly acquired on life’s road. There are some who make do with a few dogmatic fragments of their parents’ belief system, a couple of dusty platitudes picked up in the schoolyard, a quirky bias found lying around in a share house, a mad notion or two downloaded from the interweb, and whatever they heard yesterday that they liked the sound of and have not already forgotten. We all know such people, and when they join us in conversation we (metaphorically, and sometimes literally) pat them on the head and show them where the toys are. What are we to say about people who have not given careful thought to the cut, colour and ensemble-effect of their opinions? What are we to say about anything?
I have spent considerable energy during most of my life acquiring and demonstrating superior opinions: opinions that were stain-resistant, colour-fast, self-cleaning, self-tapping, self-aware, odour-free, gluten-free, BPA-free, freewheeling, freestanding, freakishly prescient, sustainably harvested, evidence-based, independent, transcendent, resplendent, perfect-bound, biodynamic, and shocking in their original simplicity. While this has been a pleasant past-time, and more socially useful than watching cat videos or joining the Liberal Party, it has not been the runaway success I might justifiably have expected. The problem is that the world of opinions is now so diversified and incoherent that expressing an opinion of any colour is guaranteed to make one contemptible to half the population, boring to most of the other half and mildly admirable to just a few unfortunates who agree with you but couldn’t have put it better themselves. Reluctantly, I am coming round to the position that being opinionated is hardly worth the effort. But don’t let me discourage you from your own (possibly misguided but doubtless beguiling) attempts in that direction.
The first thing to go, in my own case, is consistency. As soon as I decide that it does not really matter if I have an opinion, allowing me to go without, I decide that I may as well have one anyway. In fact, I have three opinions ready to fly, which I keep well oiled in a cupboard at the back of the garage. I also have apinions, ipinions, epinions and a single but quite ornately gilded upinion. None of these are in much demand, opinions having pretty much monopolised the marketplace of ideas since wishful bigotry came to dominate global politics. Although, in this digital age, I daily expect epinions and ipinions to make a comeback. iPinions, of course, have been trademarked by [megacorp with fruity name], which simultaneously boosts the cachet of the word and inhibits its use in normal speech.
Never mind. This morning I wheeled out my favourite opinion. After giving it a brisk polish with the bright terry towelling of my spotless mind, I tested it with a quick run on Twitter.
You may not have heard of Twitter — it is as close to pointless as a social media thingummy can be, and its spaces are populated by grotesques, robots, narcissists, marketers and people who ought to know better. Twitter, however, is the epitome of the descent into chaos that is civilization now. It is many things to many people, but no good to anyone. Twitter is an engine for the propagation and instant destruction of ideas, a rage machine, pickpocket of time, sadomasochistic autofellator, tower of babel, jokebook, instrument of imperial power, psychic leech and lightweight communication tool.
My opinion, concisely expressed, dropped into the whirlpool of Twitter like a photon into black hole Sagittarius A. What was it, this opinion, before it was not?