You know the saying - opinions are like **** (insert crude moniker for whatever body part tickles your fancy).
Everyone's got one, doesn't mean you need to shove it down other peoples' throats.
Never has it been so easy to share our opinion with others as what it is today with social media. And oh boy, hasn't the world thrown us some juicy opinion bones this past little while.
We now at our fingertips have it so easy to share our views and opinions among our networks with the click of a button.
Sometimes we can indulge in a bit of apathetic slacktivism and hit the share button on someone else's collection of thoughts, or a meme, or at other times, if we're feeling particularly eloquent (although not always in the view of the reader) or passionate, we can pen our own prose on whatever topic we feel strongly about that day.
Then we hit the make public button, posting what we hope to be controversial enough to have the "share" or "like" button hit hundreds, if not thousands of times.
We will go back and check again and again to see how the numbers climb on our post, because the higher the numbers, the more correct we are in our opinions, am I right?
And well, if anyone raises their head in disagreement, we can just disregard their views as being totally irrelevant as they are just "keyboard warriors" or "trolls".
But in our haste to impart our views on the rest of the world, I fear we are losing the art of sharing our experiences.
Over the past decade of watching online debate, I have noticed that strong opinion spawns conflict, distrust and disconnect.
Strong opinion only creates conversation with those who either strongly agree or disagree, who are rarely going to change their mind.
When people have a strong opinion on a topic, on either end, they often overlook the majority of people who hold no strong views either way.
The people who sit on the fence could swing either way, ultimately casting the deciding vote.
The people in the middle are so fed up with the constant bickering, that it all becomes white noise, the only way to reach them is to cut through the static with a clear, calm and credible voice.
However, when we share our experiences on a topic, what values we hold to make us feel the way we do, and our life's reality, we can then nurture connections, engagement, understanding and empathy.
Wrapping our opinions up in stories of our experiences is akin to wrapping up a dog's worm tablet in a slice of meat.
Our fence sitters are so focused on the experience that you're sharing with them, that they're not noticing that they're taking your opinion or values on board.
I have found that people become more receptive to subtlety as apposed to clenching their teeth together and turning their head away from strong opinion.
Your opinions won't change the world, but building on experiences can.
- Charters Towers grazier Kylie Stretton