When spring comes around, we often discuss cleaning out our closets, but seldom do we discuss cleaning out our views. How much do we let other people’s unwanted opinions mold and define our perceptions of ourselves? And how often do we project our own negativity into the world, labeling it to be fact?

It’s hard to trust anything these days, with the media serving personal agendas and in turn, being viewed with heavy skepticism. Likewise, social media makes it easier to project false images of our lives to the world, and when these charades are kept up consistently enough, they tend to bleed into how we conduct ourselves in real life. In a world so riddled with smoke and mirror facades and cover-ups, it is hard to trust what is real.

The internet has unsurprisingly morphed into a platform to tear into each other anonymously, making it easy to bear silent witness to negativity or join in from the comfort of your screen, providing a detached distance.

When you are outnumbered, it is much harder to speak up in self-defense, but another thing that the news has shown is that, despite the odds, people are rising up and raising their voices against injustices. A number of movements have sprung up over the past few months, as people demand recognition and change. In many cases it is easier to sweep things under the rug, but such instances have demonstrated that even the very young have found their voices. Despite the mayhem, 2018 seems to be the year for putting your foot down and speaking up.

Suffering is an intrinsic part of life; we simply cannot avoid it. But we can all do our part to be consciously nicer, or at the very least, more authentic beings. A lot of the chaos we create emanates from our snap judgments and reactions. Instead of feeling the immediate need to feed into and spread negativity, we instead have the chance to defy expectations and choose not to react — or react with dignity.

There are things that are worth fighting and others that are better to let go. We live in a world where our opinions seem to hyper matter, as they can be readily broadcast across a dozen platforms. However, not all of our opinions are as important as we think, nor do we need to shove them down everyone’s throat.

At this moment, the world is in a chaotic and turbulent state. The government is riddled with problems, nations are under attack and violence is spreading like a plague. These issues will take more than one person to solve, but something we can change at this moment is our direct environment. The emotions and opinions we project onto the world has the potency to influence others. What kind of an impact do you want your words and actions to have?

Emma Polini is the managing editor of the Van Alstyne Leader, Anna-Melissa Tribune and Prosper Press. What do you want in your paper? Email her at epolini@heralddemocrat.com to let her know.