It seems like not a day goes by lately without me seeing something that starts to get my hackles rising. But that's the internet, right? It's just an avalanche of everything from everyone . . . . . . everywhere. And being bothered by it is about as useful as being bothered by a cloudy day during a Scottish summer, right? On the one hand, yes. But it's also good to let off some steam now and again. And I am going to do that right now as I highlight some important differences.
There's a difference between not liking something and being offended by it. If you happen to be, for example, a British man named Kevin (like, hmmmm, me) and someone makes a joke that happens to make fun of someone called Kevin then that isn't actually a reason to be offended. If you were a gay, British man named Kevin then that would not automatically make the joke-teller a homophobe. As long as the joke was still just about a general Kevin. But even if it was a joke about YOU, it's still not terrible if it's about your general Kevin-ness, as opposed to your sexuality. And using stereotypes and exaggerated negative attitudes to make a point is not the same as actually endorsing either. It's often a tightrope-walk, no argument from me there, but people are too quick in this time of split-second judgment to jump to whatever conclusion allows them to start fighting their good fight for the day.
There's a difference between supporting friends or favourite artists and just blindly endorsing everything that they do as one of the best things ever. I have a lot of friends who put creative works out there and I would never want to tell them if/that they suck. It's not nice. But I would offer constructive criticism, whenever possible, or just keep my mouth shut. Foaming at the mouth with praise for something just because a) someone is a friend or, more commonly, b) you hope to connect with someone famous online will only make your opinion worthless and stunt the potential growth of the people you may want to lend real support to. It's even worse than just saying "good job".
Writing a "clickbait" headline or Top 10 article is not usually the same as writing something that's actually worth the time a reader can spend on it. It's an easy way to get your numbers up, whoopeee, but I've recently discovered that taking the easier way to get your numbers up actually works against you. People respond better to you if they know that you're actually putting some thought into what you're writing. Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, you won't BELIEVE what happens next.
Although folks can pretend otherwise, nobody knows everything. That's okay. Don't pretend to know everything. The best thing you can do, most times, is to know what you don't know. If that makes sense. And admit it. Because you'll be caught out eventually.
Having a different opinion to others is not the same as starting an argument. I've seen plenty of polite and civil disagreements online, and loads of healthy conversation that have stemmed from them. In fact, some of my most enjoyable discussions have developed from a difference of opinion. Of course, this is accompanied by the proviso that we should remember that not all opinions are equally valid. That's not to say that someone who hates John Carpenter movies isn't entitled to hate John Carpenter movies, but if they've only seen Ghosts Of Mars and Vampires, for example, and are weighing them against the likes of The Shining, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Suspiria, etc. then it's not exactly the same criteria being used to contrast and compare his filmography.
Last, but not least, there's a difference between writing carelessly and writing without a care. The latter should be your default position. Please yourself and perhaps sometimes other people will also enjoy it. But write carelessly and you will probably end up pleasing nobody.