A number of things have been hitting our headlines in the past week or so, while I've been out of Singapore.
The most intense bit of news (at least based on the frequency it seems to be appearing) would be that of the now-publicised Lee family dispute. While I have my views on the matter, I will not speculate or discuss them until more facts arise.
It's always tempting to grab any bit of information that supports one's worldview and shoot off a quick opinion piece or blast a scathing reply on the comment sections. However, it's almost never the best thing to do. Without calmly sifting through the information, putting the pieces together or asking more questions, how can we expect to form a well-informed opinion?
Of course, this is an unavoidable consequence of our ever-connected world of social media. Everyone has an opinion and many people think that their opinion is as valid as anyone else's, so everyone else should listen to what they have to say.
This, of course, cannot be further from the truth.
First of all, not all opinions are equal. Some opinions are more valid than others.
As an example, a doctor who has been practising medicine for 20 years is far more qualified than even, say, a highly-regarded lawyer to say whether or not Vitamin C helps us recover from a cold.
An experienced electrician would be a far better person to ask about your flickering lights than an insurance agent.
A trained chef will be able to give you better advice on how to keep your steaks moist while grilling them than an IT professional will.
Experts in a field are far more qualified than the general population when it comes to their area of expertise. As such, it stands to reason that their opinions in those areas are far more valid than ours.
Secondly, the freedom to express does not equate to a freedom from responsibility.
Yes, we are able to post what we want where we want. Some people take this to mean that they should speak or type thoughtlessly without regard for others or for their own image.
Anything you post on social media or in a public setting is now part of public domain. You cannot suddenly decide that you are no longer going to take responsibility for what you say/do there. Neither can you blame a moment of folly or a 'slip of the tongue/thumb' for your comments or writing.
If you are going to put up information or opinions, then you will have to take responsibility for them. If you can't or don't want to, then keep them to yourself.
Thirdly, we can agree to disagree.
If two people agree on everything, one of them is unnecessary.
Just because someone does not agree with you, it doesn't mean that you have to always convince them to agree. It's fine to question and debate. Let's not degrade a possibly fruitful discussion to name-calling and insults.
Every disagreement can be an opportunity to learn instead of a mere bone of contention. We can learn of different viewpoints as well as how different people think.
Just as we want to be heard, shouldn't we allow others to be heard as well?