Twice this month I’ve caught myself deciding not to post critiquing comments on a YouTube video and I recently rescinded a social networking update about failing to see why a particular band was so popular. While the update may have been pulled due to a desire not to give an opinion where none was asked for, this issue of holding my tongue is starting to bother me.
There’s a certain sense to “if you haven’t got anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all” when it comes to issues of people’s feelings or private mediums where discussion isn’t encouraged, but the entire point of YouTube, Facebook and all the other children of “Internet 2.0” is to encourage debate over user generated content, not to form closed communities and independent forums… there are closed communities and independent forums that do just that already.
It doesn’t take too long on YouTube to find comments like the following:
“Why haters always gotta hate?”
“Stop talking about other fucking artists”
“So you came on here just to say you don’t like something? lol!”
That, and the “dislike” feature (which Facebook still so correctly refuses to employ) gives birth to “I can’t believe 456 people don’t like this” or the more creative claims that “64 people have no heart” or “17 people don’t know anything about music!” Check any popular video, you’ll see them there.
I’ve censored myself on public forums specifically because I can’t be bothered with the diametrically opposed response, and this sense of being shot down for having an opinion beyond “I like this a specific amount”. If you think The Band is good, someone will always be there to tell you you’re wrong, and that The Band is awful. More often than not they’ll tell you you’re retarded, or accuse you of lacking taste, suggesting This Other Band They Hate as something you probably like.
Ultimately we suffer when someone engaging in dialogue is asked “Can’t we just stop disagreeing and enjoy the music?” No. the very fact that we disagree means we can’t stop and enjoy the music. Even if we’re discussing a matter secondary or tertiary to the music itself, the music is the best and most effective flag to rally around and discuss it.
I wholly recommend that people who have opinions without intent or evidence should shut the fuck up about them, but if you’ve got even a scrap of backing to your point, or just the smallest opening to consideration and having your mind changed, it terrifies me that you might be cowed into silence.