This is my year – #27 – 270115

Opinions. Everyone’s got one right?

Do people really care deeply enough about Taylor Swift that their patronage of an Australian radio station hinges on whether or not she is included in a democratic music poll?

In case you don’t know what I’m talking about, Triple J hosts an annual poll for listeners (and non-listeners) to vote for their favourite songs of the previous year. The Hottest 100 Countdown is played on Australia Day, and accompanied by thousands of parties where people enjoy boatloads of beer and sausages. Triple J is part of the publicly funded ABC Network, and therefore is not driven by profit. It actively promotes Australian music, and has become perhaps the best avenue for young, talented local artists to get airtime, a following, and eventual commercial success. As such, the yearly countdown often has a very Australian flavour, because a lot of Australian songs are played each year.

This year’s countdown gained a lot more publicity than usual, thanks to Buzzfeed. A writer for the online list dispensary (who also used to work for Triple J as a news presenter) published a call to arms for readers to include Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” in the countdown.

What ensued was one of the most entertainingly moronic mass argument in history.

Loyal Triple J listeners wanted to defend the sanctity of the countdown, which would be forever infected with commercial, fibrous, vapid music if this precedent was set.

Swift fans maintained that a popular music poll meant nothing if one of the most popular (read: commercially successful) artists was not included. A lot of arguments also suggested that the station had no business taking tax-payer funding if it was not going to bow to the will of hard-working Australians.

“Hipster baiters” wanted to get “Shake It Off” onto the countdown simply to piss off the perceived stereotype of a Triple J listener.

While far too many column inches and too much blogroll were being devoted to each side’s arguments, Triple J sat back and said NOTHING. No statements, no comments. And it was indeed the best thing they could have done. Immediately preceding the countdown, they stated their position in the most fitting way possible. The countdown had received more publicity than it could have possibly hoped for, and perhaps a whole new audience for many homegrown musicians. Undoubtedly there are disappointed fans, crying out that their democratic rights had been infringed.

Why does it matter? Why do some people feel the desperate need to enforce their opinions on others? In an age where the ability to “broadcast yourself” has been made as streamlined as possible, people feel like their opinions carry some weight simply because they are projected out into an audience. I mean look at this! I feel the need to comment on the opinions of others simply because I have a platform. My platform is small and insignificant, but it COULD be seen by millions. Dreams are free.

For the most part the sharing of opinions on a mass scale is harmless. Either the subject doesn’t really matter (it’s music, like what you like, who gives a shit?), or the person has no traction to influence anyway (“@musicdude Go back to your gay hipster shit, I’ll keep listen to SUCCESSFUL artists”).

And then you get the dangerous combination of morons with a platform, followers with malleable beliefs and a serious issue. The most visible example at the moment is the vaccination “debate”.

There is no debate. Vaccination against preventable illness is one of the greatest medical achievements in history. Diseases that would previously ravage young immune systems were all but eradicated in western countries by the turn of the millennium. A doctor, who has since lost his license to practice, “uncovered” a link between the MMR vaccination and autism, and it was picked up by activists (particular Jenny McCarthy) to encourage anxious parents to reconsider vaccinating their children. The disproven belief that they would expose their progeny to autism instead exposed their children to potentially deadly infections.

These dangerous opinions are now reducing herd immunity, exposing healthy, vaccinated people to diseases that were effectively non-existent. They are making a choice that not only has potentially deadly consequences for their own children, but also has serious consequences for others around them. People are decisions to be governed by fear, and are dragging their children and others into the path of something much more serious.

Opinions are like assholes, just because you have one doesn’t mean anyone else should see it.


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