"All sorts of entertaining" - Elizabeth Seckman

"Michael and his pals make me wish I lived in Adelaide" - Cherdo

"If I had a daughter, I'd send her to Australia to meet him (and marry him)" - Robyn Alana Engel

"An Australian version of me. Only younger. And Talented. And better looking. Okay, nothing like me." - Al Penwasser

"Whom must I fuck or pay to get a quotation at the top of your blog post?" - Janie Junebug

Friday, 5 August 2016

Opinionated

I found out a while ago that there's a few people in my umpiring group that see me as being opinionated. I was sitting in the change room after a match and my co-umpire asked me what I thought of the whole Brexit situation. I hesitated before giving my answer.
'Ah... No strong opinions,' I finally said. I was definitely interested in the situation but I didn't have a clue how it really affected me or the people in those countries. My co-umpire bawked.
'What's this? Michael without an opinion? I never thought I'd see the day!' he boomed. I found that perplexing.
'What? When did I get this reputation of being opinionated?'
'Our coach reckons you are. And you're always going on about your quiz nights.' Not wanting to be too argumentative, I left it there.
'Yeah, I do talk about that a lot, I'll give you that,' I said, giving a fake laugh. I decided not to ask him how on Earth talking about one's passions could translate into that person being opinionated.

When I left the change room and went off to my next thing, I felt troubled. I wasn't at all sure why. I don't view being opinionated as a particularly bad thing. It's people who have uninformed convictions or people who drill their opinions onto others that you want to steer clear of. In fact, I've often found myself wishing I was more opinionated. I tend to just be an impartial observer in most situations. I won't take action until I have all the information I need to make the right decision. I assume nothing and if I do assume something, I eventually realise it's an assumption and factor that in my decision-making process. I do love that about myself, but sometimes I just wish I was like everyone else on Facebook who seem so sure of the difference between right and wrong and where they stand in it.

So why did it bother me to be called opinionated in such a matter-of-fact way? Was it because I didn't think it was true? Was it because maybe it was true? Maybe I couldn't see it from my position - like when I friend has to tell you you have something stuck in your teeth, I was being opinionated the whole time and just couldn't see it. I eventually realised that that was the problem - I, like most people, work hard to control how the rest of the world sees me. Somehow, I was doing something that gave off this impression that I'm opinionated. And without knowing what it was I was doing, I couldn't stop it or control it in any way.

Coming to understand why that accusation had made me feel that way was great, but it didn't alleviate the feeling. It took me a couple of weeks to feel okay about it, and it took a number of events to gradually achieve it over that time.

First there's umpiring. When I give a free kick during a game of football, it's very rare for the infringing player to agree with my decision. No matter how blatant the free kicks are, during the game I'll get constant complaints from the players, the coaches and the spectators - even the spectators of games involving 9-year-old kids. It's a constant bug-bear of mine, but those people just see events in a way that I never will.

Then, I was listening to a podcast that talks about each episode of The Simpsons. The podcast has a segment where they talk about what people were saying on the internet at the time the episode first came out. The comments are almost exclusively overly negative. From as early as season 2, people were proclaiming every episode to be the worst ever and that The Simpsons was coming to an end. They said the worst bits of the show were the bits that we now view as absolute classics (think "knifey-spooney" from Bart vs Australia and Sideshow Bob with the rakes in Cape Fear).

Third, it came up during conversation that when I was much younger, my Dad would get it in his head that I'd done something wrong. It didn't matter what evidence he had - it would often be as little as he saw something out of place and assumed I'd done it. I could swear black and blue that it wasn't me, but the stronger I protested, the angrier he'd get and the more trouble I'd be in.

This all brought me to a realisation - sometimes, people will just see things that just aren't there. No matter what you do or how hard you try, there will still be people who see things in a way that's so far out of how you see it that it's like their opinion came from outer space and asked to be taken to your leader. I never like proclaiming that some opinions are just plain wrong, but for my own sanity, I need to accept that it's sometimes the case. I had no clue what I was doing to give the impression that I'm opinionated, and that's because I wasn't doing anything. That small group of people just made something from nothing. Now it no longer bothers me, it just makes me laugh.


11 comments:

  1. Usually when people call someone "opinionated," they really mean "he doesn't agree with MY opinions and I don't like that." I get called opinionated all the time, LOL!

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    1. Yeah I wouldn't call you opinionated. But then I guess I agree with a lot of what you say ;)

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  2. I would think that perhaps the gentleman may have confused the ability to assert yourself as opinionated.
    Otherwise I can understand the concern. It is an unattractive mantle. I'm opinionated about politics. However I avoid the topic. After you vote, there is not much left to do but live your life.

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    1. That's interesting because I often don't assert myself either. If someone says something I don't agree with, I tend to just keep my mouth shut and move on.

      I hope your vote was put to good use ;)

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    2. Sometimes folks are just flapping their gums. I bet he doesn't remember half of what he says. Lol. Not everyone is to be taken serious. If your first inclination is to hold your tongue, I sincerely doubt you are opinionated.

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  3. From reading your blog the past couple years, opinionated is the last word I would use to describe you. You do hold your ground on what you believe, but you're open minded.

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    1. Thank you, I appreciate it. That's one thing I definitely try to be.

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  4. Another good post, Michael. Years ago I told a neighbor how much I liked something, I have no idea what it was, and she said, I suppose it was the best ever like everything is for you. I was taken aback and responded with a fake laugh. Is it wrong to praise highly? I realize now that I've read your post that I never recovered from that comment. I stopped spending time with that person, which ended up being easy because after a while we moved away. I don't like everything. Sometimes I say so, but I often go out of my way to tell people how nice they look or how kind they are and I feel as if it's rare when someone I know in person compliments me. In the blogosphere, it's a different story. In general, I feel appreciated, even loved by some bloggers, and if people don't like me or if they think I'm rude and stupid, then they shouldn't visit my blog. I do tend to exaggerate on my blog, but I feel it's part of the persona I've created and people often comment that I'm funny, although I'm not. Perhaps the person who made that rather odd statement to you is jealous of your successes. As for your dad, his criticism of you sounds very similar to my ex-husband's criticism of me. I could do no right in his eyes. He even kept a list of things he thought I did wrong, most of which had never happened. It hurt me terribly. My daughter also told me a number of times, when she still spoke to me, that she'd never been able to do anything to please me. Nothing could have been further from the truth and I said so and provided examples. Anyway, I'd rather be excited and happy about life, criticize when I feel it's absolutely imperative (such as saying that Donald Trump is a liar), and compliment people even if they don't have anything nice to say to me. Sorry for the long comment. You have me thinking, and when I think, it's dangerous.

    Love,
    Janie

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    1. I appreciate when people can open up like that :)

      Was the comment made in jest or was it meant as genuine criticism? I tend to love everything too, and I think that's a fantastic trait to have.

      I'm sorry about your daughter and ex husband.

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  5. Isn't the definition of being opinionated simply to have an opinion? I think it's a positive description, not an insult. Id rather be opinionated than to be a lazy fence sitter who doesn't care about anything. People like that don't seem to be able to make decisions about anything.

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    1. I agree that not having an opinion can sometimes be lazy, but I think the term "opinionated" specifically refers to that stereotype of strong, often misinformed opinions that are pushed onto those around the speaker.

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