Intellectual Intolerance: An Allusion to The Social Media

As Homo sapiens with distinctive faculties, we are bound to hold divergent views on matters arising from various spheres of humanity. Since variety, as they say, is the spice of life, we should be entitled to our opinions and be free to express same without fear of querulous critics, however unpopular or ludicrous such opinions may sound.

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This is so while bearing in mind the fact that we deserve no apologies from others for expressing theirs, after all, of what necessity is having two, three or more wise men around if it’s a given that they will always agree.

The fact that we reason differently, appreciate situations rationally and exchange perspectives should ordinarily afford us a broad learning experience, as the tolerance of different shades of opinions will only make us better.

As one who loves to stay abreast of current affairs, the social media, most especially Facebook and Twitter has been of immense mileage. However, it beats me how these platforms have been made more of diatribes trading forums than anything else.

At times when I post a thread on my wall, I revel in the conviction that I have been able to contribute my quota to solving a salient social challenge, not least in anticipation of intellectually edifying comments from concerned citizens. In the same vein, when I stumble on other people’s posts, I try to register my viewpoints As dispassionately as I possibly can.

But alas, I’m often left with a feeling of consternation when readers, rather than contributing meaningfully to a discourse, hurl insults at those they consider unintelligent, at least, in their own estimation. In fact, what I have noticed over time is that people will always resort to vituperations when they cannot match others for intellection.

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Usually when I’m lurking on Facebook, and I come across a  post with let’s say 100 previous comments, even before opening the comments box, the first impression I get is Wow! there is a pool of ideas here. But after all, said and done, I’m seldom able to pick out thirty ingenious and inspiring submissions.

All I see are revilements borne out of biases of ethnic, political and religious colourations. This leaves me wondering the extent to which intellectual laziness has gotten the better of us. Isn’t it more sensible to refrain from making comments where you know you’ve got nothing to offer? That’s the more reason why I’ve sworn to block anyone who embraces incivility on my wall.

Intellectual engagement should be no more than people presenting their perspectives to issues, while attempting to convince each other to accept respective views, using superior arguments.

What befuddles me at times is how people who do not know one another from Adam find it comforting to exchange insults over pressing issues begging for productive deliberations instead. I have even had friends who blocked me for holding opinions that do not resonate well with them. So, I’m left in a limbo as to whether we must always be on the same page on every single issue, as though we are zombies.

For me, I try as much as I possibly can to be previous and receptive to dissenting views, but in the event that I consider an opinion too outrageous to be expressed by a rational individual, I simply and honourably pull out. This is what, by my reckoning, is the precept of an intellectual.

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Great minds are not renowned for their rigidity and anger in the face of dissension, but the ability to argue logically and the fortitude to respect the other side of the divide is the hallmark of an intelligent person.

An increase in knowledge, wisdom and understanding is the byproduct of accommodating divergent ideas, and this is the more reason why we ought to be open-minded and tolerant of opinions from all and sundry, instead of allowing sentiments becloud our sense of justice.

By Ridwan Dada, writer, law student and advocate for the rights of persons with disability. He may be reached via and @_ridwandada on the Twitter handle


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