Irrelevant Judgement and the Doctor Who Feedback-Amplifier…

I have opinions but they are unimportant and irrelevant. You have opinions but they are unimportant and irrelevant. They have opinions but they are unimportant and irrelevant. Yet they are all out there on the internet clamouring for attention, expressed through various social media channels.

We live in a democratised information age that allows and encourages freedom of thought and freedom of expression. Simultaneously, though, it also empowers pompous arrogance and self-entitlement in a public space. At least that’s my opinion, and my opinion is unimportant and irrelevant.

I’m just blasting on my own blog – an ill-informed personal opinion zone – here but there is a wider sociocultural concern on my mind (on my Twitter feed, on the comments section of every single article I read, in the articles themselves, etc. etc.). Our society is very judgemental and technological advancements and changing times have conspired to make us even more judgy. What do you think? Like or dislike this? Vote for your favourite! Give us your feedback! Comments? Stick up your star rating!

We’ve got to a situation where we’ve got to have something to say about everything that happens or that we experience. (We don’t, by the way, and if we do that we’ll exhaust both our minds, mouths and fingers.) The thing that’s most troubling in this idea though is how there’s an explicit suggestion that there has to be a value judgement in that. You’ve got to like or dislike something. You’ve got to have an opinion on it, rate it accordingly and mark it down for posterity. You can’t be ambivalent or just let something be – it has to be categorised and subjected to a review treatment.

You realise that this goes beyond enjoyment of pop culture art when you find yourself batting off emails asking you write a review and provide a star-rating for a USB stick you ordered off Amazon. I’ve got to have an opinion on a pendrive? What if I don’t want to have an opinion and subsequently share it? Does anyone actually want to know what I think about the crap I buy, the stuff I watch or the experiences I immerse myself in?

Maybe, maybe not but most of the time it’s probably the latter because I’m not a person of immense wisdom or significance (Yet. I’m working on it, a’ight?). I’ve got some awareness and expertise in certain fields and likewise, I respect the thoughts of others who I know know about specific things. I flock to them and consult their personal experience if I wish to get an enlightened perspective and I figure that most people do likewise. Or do they? Do people put what people think – subjective opinions and not objective intellectual appreciation – above all else or, in fact, are people putting their own subjective opinion as the paramount truth?

Have we now got to the point where the opinion is more important than the actual original thing that we’re forming an opinion on? Across journalism across all media formats there’s now a greater emphasis on what the Twittersphere is saying and it’s mostly in my opinion (and my opinion is irrelevant and unimportant) asinine and adds nothing. Opinions are like arseholes in that everyone has one (some people have two) and they are best dealt with artfully one at a time in beautifully-lit private spaces. Everyone’s arsehole all at once forcefully shoved in your face, however, is a violent pornography nightmare.

Social media is a giant magnifying window in which to advertise your arsehole and all that dribbles out of it and collectively our culture encourages expressive incontinence. I’m moved to muse after contemplating the kind of things that I’ve observed in cyberspace over the space of the past week – lots of judgement and a lack of judicious, conscious thought on behalf of a lot of people (myself included). So many people rushing forward to spray their self-righteous opinions all over everyone else, but no one cares but that doesn’t matter ’cause everyone’s entitled to our opinion and this is how we do this right?

Skipping past current affairs and the spheres of politics, sports and suchlike – all infernal flame grills that require a Hazmat suit which I’ve left at the drycleaners – I’ll round up by coming back to the entertainment arena and the thing that prompted this on-the-fly thread in the first place: Doctor Who. It’s a popular BBC TV programme that airs on Saturday nights and follows the adventures of a Time Lord and his blue police box. It’s got wide appeal, tradition, history and oscillates between all kinds of stories, themes and settings each week. There’s a lot of interest and things that are worthy of note here – it’s a pop cultural concept encompassing multiple concepts and it inspires further thought and discussion.

In the aftermath though the emphasis appears to be judging each episode and then by extension the entire current ongoing series. In particularly the judgment is a value-based one of whether it is ‘good’ or ‘bad’. It’s a rating review and as soon as the closing credits have rolled I get the sense that people are falling over themselves to race onto the internet to slam down their opinion. But who cares if you enjoyed this week’s Doctor Who? Your opinion is unimportant and irrelevant! No one cares because they care too much about their own unimportant and irrelevant opinion! To log on to the internet at the weekend is to bear witness to the Doctor Who Social Media Spitting Contest. Everyone seems desperate to gob off and regurgitate their personal bile in the aftermath of eating up the broadcast episode. I sometimes wonder whether the draw of Doctor Who is now working out what you’re going to say about it after watching, how you’ll publicly judge it and how sure you are of your position in case you end up engaged in a spitting contest with someone who just happens to find exception to your hacking phlegm.

I think (and this is my unimportant and irrelevant opinion) that too often we, as pop cultural consumers, are approaching everything through a paradigm of “is this good or bad?” as if we are pre-emptively reviewing or rating the experience as we go through it. That affects your mindset and locks you into judgementalism. Sometimes this is required if you work or write as a critic  but on a functioning human level, it’s unnecessary. You don’t need to judge everything or form an opinion on everything and then weigh in by sharing it on Twitter or another online space or in real life. (And there is no real life. This is all an illusion and that’s not an opinion but actual fact.)

If you let go of that obligation – an obligation encouraged by all this technology and the social media connections we’re slavishly hooked up on – and you detach yourself from the evils of judgementalism you may be able to experience life as it is. Doctor Who just is. The film you watched just is. The product you just spent money on just is. The meal you just ate just is. Life just is. You don’t need to rate it, review it or stick a thumbs up or thumbs down on it every single time. What’s more you don’t need to tweet it out to everyone and force your judgement on everyone else. Attachment is the cause of suffering, and that’s Buddhist wisdom. Ah, satori

The side-effect of everyone forcing their judgement on everyone is that these opinions become even more unimportant and irrelevant and everyone’s just drowning in noise and even more apt not to listen. That’s just my opinion though and my opinion is unimportant and irrelevant…

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  1. Doing Life Daily, Rocking Rubber Bands and Life Lessons from a Basketball Legend… | ENTER... JAMES CLAYTON

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