You can form your own opinion, not your own facts

Like the vast majority of teenagers, I spend an unnecessary amount of time browsing social media. A good chunk of my day includes scrolling through posts, watching clips, and reading articles. I also spend a lot of time doing what most people would arguably call the greatest waste of my time: reading comments.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m aware that most of what I read through on a day-to-day basis is written by people who have no credible background on the topic or idea that is brought up by a post. No comment section is complete without its share of trolls who take the comment sharing function as an opportunity to be humorous, cruel, or a combination of both. In addition, there are those who have not even read the article or watched the video in question.

To add to the idiocy of such comments, the commenter will proceed to defend what they have stated with some form of the phrase, ‘I am entitled to my opinion.’ This, of course, is followed by furious refutation of any other points other contributors have made.

Once I’ve read a comment of this nature, I usually put my comment reading escapade to a rest for that day.

I have grown up firmly believing that everyone is entitled to their opinion. As someone with an older sister, I have frequently dealt with putting an end to 30 minute heated discussions by agreeing to disagree on a subject. Being part of the Junior Statesmen of America, I also deal with other young adults with beliefs varying across the political spectrum in formal and informal settings. Differing opinions is what makes our democracy great.

However, what I will not tolerate, and what the late U.S. Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan addresses in a famous quote of his, is the belief that ‘everyone is entitled to their own facts.’

At this point it isn’t surprising to see that when someone says that they are entitled to their own opinion, they do not mean that they are entitled to their own viewpoint; rather they mean that they are entitled to their own reality and to the supposed facts that confirm their beliefs.

I’ve seen just about everything argued as a matter of fact versus myth in social media comments. Though I may not agree with someone who says that President Donald Trump is the second most ‘presidential’ president after President Abraham Lincoln, I agree that such a list would be open to debate. However, Former President Barack Obama’s place of birth can be proven as definitive with his birth certificate therefore saying he is not a U.S citizen is not only an opinion—it is a flat-out lie.

Globalization has allowed someone from Ireland to debate world issues with someone living in India through mass internet accessibility. I fully support how the internet has been made a world-class platform for discussion. However, I will never support those who do not use this platform without the respect of others’ subjective opinions.