Having an opinion on any topic seems integral in today’s society. Democratic or Republic, pro or anti, one or the other. No matter what comes up in either conversation or debates, adding a personal point of view has become almost universal. Social networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter are just a few outlets for expression from people of all walks of life. This also provides a place for, as an engineer would say, friction to occur.

A common view is that, regardless of what one says, freedom of speech protects that person from retaliation. This does not always occur. Although the First Amendment allows each citizen to have their opinion, there are some restrictions for the safety of the citizen with the view and others in contact with the person. Provoking violence or inciting illegal acts is not covered by the First Amendment. However any citizen may feel about their issue, causing harm to other citizens, such as creating a hostile environment in order to create a dangerous situation, intentionally, prevents the “safety net” of freedom of speech. Instead, people are encouraged to express themselves in any manner they choose that does not directly harm others.

By now, a reader may be confused by the direction of this article. How can this be an opinion article if all that is being covered is what is entailed as an opinion? Knowing how to form an opinion is half the battle. Here is my personal opinion on how to form one. Regardless of where a person may stand on an issue, on either side or possibly in the gray middle area, everyone should think before they speak. Exercising the right of free speech is more important than ever with our ever connected world through the Internet, allowing views to be disseminated globally. This also comes with the heavy burden of deciding what should be said. Talking is just like crossing the street. Look both ways, check to see if crossing the street is safe, and make sure you don’t create a hazardous situation such as standing and waiting for oncoming traffic.

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