Monday, 29 June 2009

Validating one's Opinion

I have had a very good weekend; two Nunes - Holden gigs in as many days, a Nerdfighter gathering in London, a scavenger hunt which my team won (Maureen Johnson still owes us all a prize. I refuse to buy anything she has written until I see some kind of proof that I... I mean we, pwned all) topped off with about 6 hours sleep over three days equates to the kind of YouTube weekend I haven't had in a very long time. Good times.

I uploaded a video, classic rhymingwithoranges' style, talking about whether drug use should be considered an illness rather than a crime following the comments of a UN official on the subject.

In the video I hinted towards my view that drug use should be legalised. I was not wrong to say this but I should have explained my opinion more clearly and so have had a large amount of comments saying the same thing. Something I always try and avoid. I also used a statistic and didn't explain very well what I was using it for, so all in all not the best video I have ever made on my channel but not so terrible that I have had to private it. I've had to do that before when I have got figures wrong and not researched the topic enough, but all this is a learning process.

In my debate videos is is quite rare for a large number of my viewers disagree with me. My audience tends to be quite liberal thinking and so will quite often agree with what I say in the video.

I was therefore taken aback when, for the first time in ages, so many, maybe even over half, of the people commenting on my video said things along the lines of, "Jazza, I usually agree with you, but not this time..." etc. etc.

I did a have a short panic. "Oh my God! People who watch me don't agree with every word I say! Whatever shall I do!?" I eventually calmed down and got over myself.

This is why I started doing these videos on RWO; for the debate and so that people from all over the world and all sorts of backgrounds could come together, disagree, explain why, and subsequently agree to disagree. So it's been good for me to get out of this rut of everyone agreeing with me and remind me what the real world is like.

I can't remember where I heard this, but I remember someone important once saying that our opinions are bullshit until we can back them up and still believe in them after debating with someone of the opposite view point. I think that is important to remember. Anyone can say they believe in something, say that something is true with unwavering confidence; but it is through debate, dialogue and conversation that our opinions gain validity.

Keep Safe
- Jazza


cody said...

I usually make myself have a debate either in my head or out loud before I present it to someone else. Obviously it's not the same as debating another person. Having to come up with alternative viewpoints against your own can be challenging, but I think it's worth it. If everyone truly thought about what they said before saying it, the world might be a tad better place to live.

Note: I did not think much before typing this. :)

Andrej said...

The subject of drugs is always going to ruffle a few feathers, because it's one of those things that is drilled into people from a young age these days - "drugs are bad". While not everyone goes along with that, it's going to set alarm bells ringing with some people because they're generally taught that if they so much as glance at marijuana it will destroy their life, or such. This tends to be the argument that often comes up against FRANK and other such organisations - the truth is that like all generalisations, it isn't true in all cases, and lacks a lot of detail. If these organisations and other educational institutions were truthful with young people, they would have to concede points such as that small amounts of certain recreational drug use don't automatically lead to terrible consequences, and that alcohol and tobacco can often be more harmful. If this happened, and people took an attitude to drug education that's more like the present attitude to sex education ("it's going to happen, but at least we can educate people into taking care"), I think the resultant less-taboo atmosphere around the subject would be constructive. But, fundamentally, it's hard to take care in a situation that is almost completely controlled by a criminal underworld, which is just another argument for legalisation and regulation in my view.

As for the backlash against your video, I think it might be partly to do with your mentioning of heroin as a casual drug - that's something that even a fluffy liberal like myself would dispute. But other than that, this whole issue is a debate needs to be had, so it's better that you're talking about it than not!

(Apologies for the gigantic comment...)

Elly said...

I never normally get into the comments side of the YouTube thing (I know, blasphemy), but your recent video is the first time I've actually had discussions on the comments page of a video, and it really reinforced my beliefs about opinion.

I disagree that opinions are bullshit until you can back them up. I think the most important concept about an opinion is that it is a fluid thing, forever changing with each new discovery about the subject. Something I found infuriating about discussing the subject of drug legalisation was that some people, even when learning something that negated their argument completely, stuck to it so absolutely for fear of being embarrassed or something, I don't know. The ability to take information and use it to inform your opinion and possibly change it is the most important thing I think!

One thing I do 100% agree about is that all drug use should be legalised. Aside from the obvious alcohol and cigarettes, I think people tend to forget about prescription drugs, and the fact that these can be as destructive if not more so than the illegal ones. The illegal drugs are actually some of the safest out there, it's the impurities which are most dangerous, which is how the majority of deaths occur, and if drugs were legalised and regulated, this wouldn't be a problem any more. Don't get me wrong, I'm totally against drug use that isn't needed for medical reasons (and even if it is sometimes), but making something safer is more important than the ethical implications of making all drugs legal.

CheekTV said...

It's an interesting conclusion on the nature of debate, drugs aside. I often see youtube as an off-shoot of TV, the only difference being the ability to comment/rate and interact. That said, most people subscribe to a channel because they're on your wavelength or "they get IT." In this it's even more surprising you managed to pick an issue that even unsettled the mighty Jazza fangirl army. I have to admit, I agree with everything you say, always... brownie points? <3

Nicholas said...

True opinions develop out of information and interaction. Everything else is a belief.