Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Lack of First-Hand Perspective

It is bad enough that no one wants to discuss things on the Internet anymore and that everyone prefers to argue even though they are not changing anyone's mind. Along with that, I have noticed a disturbing trend of people who give opinions and even lash out at others when they have no first-hand knowledge of what is being discussed. To me, this is a significantly larger problem than the constant need to argue because now people are arguing without facts, and that is absolutely dangerous.

I knew this sort of thing had been going on for a long time, but I never really paid much attention to it. A recent discussion on a Facebook Page That Shall Not Be Mentioned convinced me that some people are so miserable that they will make up reasons to lash out at others. There was a discussion about a local topic that some people have first-hand experience with and others do not. The message from those with first-hand experience was extremely unified. There was a sense of fear and hesitation in everyone who has had first-hand experience, and many of those people were supportive of each other.

Then there were the people who had never experienced the event, yet they felt qualified enough to not just make a comment on the subject, but they also felt justified in lashing out at the people who had experienced genuine fear because of the event. The scary thing is that the people who have no first-hand experience and have no idea what they are talking about started to gain a larger following than those who had actually met with the fear head-on.

Why do we do that? Why do we feel that our opinions are facts and that we don't need facts to have an opinion? Not only that, why do we feel that our opinions that are not based on first-hand experience are enough for us to try and humble the victims of fearful events? Who do we think we are?

This is victim shaming at its very worst, and it is done by people who eventually convince themselves that their lack of experience does not disqualify them from trying to tell victims that they are wrong for feeling fear. It is the same as a person without cancer trying to tell a person with cancer what they should be feeling. Without that first-hand experience, you are not qualified to make any such statements.

Yet, the conversation rages on. Local gossips feel it necessary to perpetuate certain subjects when there is nothing for the community to gain from these subjects, and people with no experience enjoy victim shaming. The sad thing is that this happens in some Lockport-based Facebook groups all of the time. There is no shame in our community. There is no empathy in our community. There is a serious lack of compassion in our community.

The problem is so bad that some people have tried to start other Lockport pages that filter out this nonsense. Guess what? There is no interesting conversation at all on any of those pages. We know because we own one. All people want to do is argue and throw their opinions around like they are fact.

It is almost as though the very fabric of our community is torn in half and there is nothing that can fix it. And that should be scary to everyone.

George N Root III is a Lockport resident who tries not to read community opinions as much anymore. Follow him on Twitter @georgenroot3, or send him a message at