You don't have to have an opinion
Opinions as the source of most misery.
“We have the power to hold no opinion about a thing and to not let it upset our state of mind—for things have no natural power to shape our judgments.” —MARCUS AURELIUS, MEDITATIONS, 6.52
I stumbled upon this quote the other day when reading The Daily Stoic, and I was surprised at how relevant this is today, especially for those of us who interact on social media, though this can be extended to anyone who owns a TV or reads the news from national newspapers.
I spend very little time on social media, and I have always been aware of how important it is to not engage (“do not read the comments”, do not feed the Troll”) and I do not read the local news, or any news report that isn't relevant on a global scale.
A few days ago I saw a Twitter post of Rula Jebreal's speech on violence against women, that she held at the Festival di Sanremo (a song festival so popular it's been a national event for the past seventy years in Italy).
The speech was brilliant and it touched upon subjects such as victims being blamed for the violence (“What was she wearing when it happened?”), or on how many women are killed just because they are women.
Regardless of how good the speech was, I knew what to expect from the comments. I knew they would mostly be a combination of users telling her to “go back to your Country” or “shut up woman”. Yet, I clicked on the link and I read the comments. And from there, responding to the comments and trolling was only one click away as I got angrier and angrier while facing all of the unreasonable, irrational hate.
I did not respond, I am pretty good at suppressing this instinct after years spent on the internet, but others did – the thread getting more and more popular with each answer as this is exactly the mechanism social media feed upon.
What is worse, in my opinion, is that in today's political climate, this is a vicious cycle we can't escape even in real life: media are using the same “click-baiting” techniques, while politicians take advantage of people's gut reactions in their own perpetual political campaigns, as hate feeds itself and society suffers.