You should hold on to your pop culture opinions

Anthony Fantano reviewing an album.

When we read a book or watch a piece of media, it is inevitable that we will form certain thoughts and opinions in relation to it. The first impression upon consumption of something is likely to leave an imprint and should, in theory, largely influence our final thoughts regarding it. However, this often does not end up being the case.

We live in an era of opinions – an age where official criticism doesn't hold much value because individual opinions are apparently more important. I am not sure that this stance is entirely true though. Everyone seems to have an opinion on everything, especially when it comes to matters of pop culture. But are those opinions actually based on individuality?

In many cases, what these opinions really lack is individualism. There are only a few variants of one opinion about a particular piece of pop culture and everyone seems to jump on the bandwagon of these limited variations. Thus, their ideas about the piece are not entirely original but are rather, homogenous with the group they feel an affiliation towards. 

Every person is bound to perceive a piece of media in their own unique, personal way. Their thoughts on something depend on multiple factors. Thus, it appears rather odd to me that so many people have such overlapping, similar opinions on such complex issues that should theoretically invoke varying emotions in each individual. The only plausible explanation is that they did not form these ideas or reach these conclusions using their own devices of thinking but have adapted them from other people without offering much friction.

On finishing a book or movie, it is quite common to get the sudden urge to go online and see what others think of it. While not bad in and of itself, it means that we are allowing our thoughts to be influenced by others' while they are still half-formulated. This, in turn, means that the opinions we see online seep into our murky ideas. Most of the times we are not even aware of what is happening. Our feelings about the piece are not cemented enough in our consciousness so when we read something that either adds to our pre-existing notions about the topic or directly conflicts with our initial impression, we sub-consciously adopt it. It leaks into our muddled pool of thoughts and moulds itself to be one of our own.

There have been innumerable instances where I changed my opinion on a piece of media simply because the wider majority online were making compelling arguments against it. When I put more thought into it, I realised I was suffering from dysmorphia. The tide of opinions made me feel like my own insight into it was invalid. However, while it might have not been what everyone agreed with, my personal opinions were valid to me and accepting others' opinions stripped them of the autonomy of being "mine".

This is not to say that every opinion that every single person has about everything is objectively correct. But pop culture opinions should not be about objective correctness. What emotions envelope us while we are enjoying something should be completely our own and what anyone else thinks of it shouldn't matter because their experience of it is indubitably different from ours.

Zaima is a struggling student, a failed guitarist and a poet in need of better poetic ideas. Send her your sympathies at [email protected]