Carte blanche to Stéphane Dompierre | My opinion is no

With their own sensitivity, artists present their vision of the world to us. This week, we give carte blanche to author and publisher Stéphane Dompierre.

Over the past few months, I’ve gotten into the daily habit of clicking on the “memories” tab on Facebook and deleting what I discover there. Not only because I consider it unnecessary to review from year to year my schedule of signings at the Trois-Rivières Book Fair in 2016, but also because my past opinions now seem useless to me, in the best case scenario, or make me cringe. So I had some opinions, so?

In the era where each person can be present on all social networks, have a blog, a podcasta YouTube channel and a camera to film yourself angry in your car, it seems important to me to remember: remaining silent is completely legal.

Having given my opinion too often on Facebook, and now having to clean up these sometimes painful memories, I have developed a rather practical little code of conduct. Before expressing my opinion on social networks, I ask myself the following questions:

  • Am I an expert on the subject?
  • Are people eagerly awaiting my opinion on the subject?
  • Does my opinion add anything new to the debate?
  • Am I acting out of anger and should instead go for a nice long walk with the dog to unwind?
  • Is it late, I’m a little hot and tomorrow I’m going to take the plunge and reread myself?
  • Does this hurt a group of people whose reality and daily struggles I am unaware of?
  • Does it hurt a particular person who may be going through difficult things that I don’t know about and who doesn’t need me to add more?
  • Do I prepare to aggressively confront an opinion contrary to mine, knowing full well that I myself have never changed my mind by having an opinion spat at me aggressively?
  • Would I be happy if a comment like this was addressed to me personally?
  • Would I have the courage to express this opinion in person in front of those it concerns without fear of receiving a slap?

Once I’ve put my opinion through the test of this rigorous questionnaire, I usually end up keeping it to myself.

Being silent also has an unsuspected advantage: we do not have to manage reactions to our words.

I no longer count the short and punchy opinions that I expressed on one platform or another one evening, finding myself rather smug, and which I had to explain, detail and qualify in the early morning because they were turning round corners.

Like everyone else, I fed the beast, and the beast loves bitchiness.

Not long ago, Jean Airoldi put women in a glass box in a shopping center. He asked passersby to give their ideally unfavorable opinion on their appearance, in order to make them bawl a good laugh, before inviting them to freshen up their wardrobe, their hair and their face. It was certainly uncomfortable, but it didn’t cause a scandal.

At that time, artists’ looks on gala evenings fueled social networks for a day or two. Too sloppy, too daring, too much bling, not enough bling… Is that botox? Is this his real hair? Are you her new boyfriend? She wasn’t one of the girls, was she? What’s his little accent, is it new? I do not like that.

Of course, the people’s tribunal and derogatory comments are still in vogue, but I naively dare to imagine that we have reached a plateau, that we have come around.

What if we told ourselves that giving our opinion for nothing was an outdated fashion and that it was time to move on?

Obviously, this won’t happen without effort. I try to moderate the bitchiness, yes, but my brain hasn’t gotten the memo and continues to feed me bitchiness. It sometimes feels like a rodeo; I have to lasso the little scamper who is galloping, grab him in my arms, lay him on the ground and tie his legs to prevent him from leaving the enclosure. But remaining silent saves me a lot of discomfort. I also have more free time and a better mood.

And I find it a bit sad for people who are used to spitting their gall in public spaces, often with aggression and without any nuance. I doubt that the enthusiastic clicks coming from a community of peers who support them in their negativity will maintain their happiness. I hope they find a hobby that will make them happier and more fulfilled.

For my part, I am going back to delete my history on Facebook. Let’s see, why was I so angry in March 2012 about the Barbies Resto Bar Grill ad? Was it because just talking about it is enough to get the song stuck in your head for a week? (Sorry.)

Who is Stéphane Dompierre?

  • Stéphane Dompierre is a writer, editor and columnist.
  • He has written more than half a dozen novels, including Novicein 2022, as well as the collections of chronicles angry black And Walk on a Lego.
  • He is director of the La Shop collection at QuébecAmérique.


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