Thoughts On Personal Opinion And Individual Choice

Sticker Shock

Kathy and I were walking through the neighborhood yesterday and passed a neighbor taking out her trash.  “Let me ask you a question,” she said as we walked by. She then proceeded to ask a question (it was related to Covid), but asked it in a way that indicated that she wasn’t looking for our opinion – she was only looking for an opportunity to tell us hers.  We listened politely for a couple of minutes, uttered a couple of pleasantries, then continued our walk. I then decided to add Covid to the list of things I don’t discuss with others, which includes religion, politics and money.


A day doesn’t go by without someone posting on antisocial media that they are “quitting” something.  The latest thing is Spotify, which I think is ironic because they cite a couple of musicians – who are famous and opinionated – quitting because of some other famous and opinionated guy who they disagree with. Also ironic is these folks, some of whom had previously “quit” Facebook, post about it on Facebook. As an aside, I wonder how many of these former listeners were ad-supported listeners and never actually paid any money. Just yesterday someone announced that they were quitting Facebook and Instagram because their account was “hacked.” It probably wasn’t, but anyway…. There are plenty of reasons to actually quit Facebook, and privacy and security are two of the biggest.

Old Rockers

It is fortunate that we live in a country that allows for personal opinion and individual decisions. Personal Freedom, we call it.  Some folks carry things a bit too far, some way too far. But everyone has the ability to have their own opinion, influenced by whatever influences them and using whatever ideas and facts they are comfortable with. Where things get really sideways is when someone feels that others’ opinions should be the same as their own, and if they aren’t the others are “wrong” and feel the need to “prove” or “fix” it.


Right and wrong is often a continuum, not just a Yay or Nay, Yes or No. There are some real extreme opinions everywhere.  I hesitate to use the words that come to mind because it would imply judgement, and I don’t wish to judge. Every position is someone’s Right and someone else’s Wrong. Suffice it to say that it is possible to find someone who you align with, regardless of where you fall on a given issue. The trick is to make it our own choice, not someone else’s that has been imposed on us.

Ball point

Since Spotify is the flavor of the week, I’ll use that example.  I am an avid listener of Spotify and use it daily. I pay for a subscription to support the company and so I can listen without advertising (I also pay for ad-free XM, Pandora and Jazz Radio – all for a fraction of what cable TV would cost).  I play Spotify on my computer, in the car and through Sonos.  I love that I can find just about any album ever made and listen to it online, for less than the cost of a CD or download each month. I even listen to a few podcasts through Spotify, (although my favorite one hasn’t posted since May 😉 ).

Dirty Book Sale

There are lots of things I don’t listen to on Spotify, and probably a lot of things I would find annoying or even offensive. But that is the case with all media.  There are even people at the NY Times and Washington Post I disagree with, but I still subscribe because overall I find value. A lot of attention is currently being focused on one person, and I know the name but have never been interested in listening.  A lot of people are fans and Spotify paid a bunch of money to carry his program, some of which comes from my subscription money. But as long as the service gives me what I want and costs a reasonable amount, I’ll stay with it. I know that a lot of musicians don’t love Spotify because they don’t care for the payment structure, so they also choose. Hopefully they can do better on their own or with Apple Music, Amazon or Tidal, but those companies aren’t exactly known as being artist-friendly either.  But they – and we – can choose.  Vote with our feet, as it were.

Two Windows, Salisbury North Carolina
For Sale or Rent
Salisbury, North Carolina

Should there be some kind of limits on content? Probably, but who gets to decide? Whose “facts” are we going to base our decisions on? There is a fine line between content moderation and censorship – anyone tasked with that role is going to have their own biases.  We already can’t agree on anything, so trying to limit content would likely just make things worse.

The Boys. Washington, North Carolina

Anyway, listen on! Be polite to your neighbors regardless of their opinions.  But have a pre-rehearsed statement that allows you to excuse yourself when the conversation gets uncomfortable.  And perhaps don’t walk through the neighborhood at 3:00 on Trash Day. That’s  the time the HOA says you can put out your can and by 3:15 half of them are out!

4 thoughts on “Thoughts On Personal Opinion And Individual Choice”

  1. Love the two windows on the white wall, image number seven! Great timing and eye! Excellent series, Tom.

    Seems to all come down to monetary decisions for all of us. Where do we spend our money and our time. Hope you stay warm!

    1. I have a friend who talks about our “currency” in terms of money, time and effort. How much do we have and how do we choose to spend it.

      Interestingly, all these photos were taken in 2012 and most of them with my then-new Fuji X-10. I wish they would put a zoom lens on the X-100 – I would probably give up everything else for just that one camera.

      The photo you reference, and most of the others, were taken on a spring walkabout with our friends Earl and Paul. How things have changed in 10 years!

      Staying warm so far – looking forward and hoping for an early spring!

  2. Knowing that you probably don’t want to get into a discussion about it :)…..I think the problem lies here:

    “ using whatever ideas and facts they are comfortable with. ”

    A fact is a fact. You can’t really ignore it if you aren’t comfortable with it. Being uncomfortable doesn’t change that it’s true. It still exists. Ideas yes. Facts no. And I think today a lot of people are out there trying to change facts that they would prefer weren’t facts.

    Of course what we thought was a fact at a singular point in time can, does, and has changed. BUT it changes based on experiments and observations, not because we would prefer it wasn’t so.

    1. Yes – saying or wishing something is true does not make it so. Facts can be changed, but only based on new facts. That doesn’t make the original fact wrong, a concept that is hard for some folks to understand. Thanks for the thoughtful reply.

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