Particularly with the rise of social media, it seems to have become our job to have an opinion about absolutely everything.
From the latest celebrity gossip to political scandals to neighborhood complaints, we’re all encouraged to “Like” or comment and otherwise share how we feel about the situation.
It’s almost a requirement. If you don’t have an opinion, apparently you’re not paying attention! How awful!
It’s long been said that opinions are like assholes: everyone has one. I’d add that in addition, not everyone needs to see yours.
And yet we’re almost pressured to do so.
It’s not new, but it’s more common with the rise of social media. We’re often shamed for not saying something about the issues of the day that others seem to think are important.
Here’s a thought: it’s ok not to have an opinion. (Unlike an asshole. That’s a problem. See your doctor.)
You’re doing a greater service by saying “I don’t know enough …” or even “I don’t care enough …” to have a well thought out opinion on a topic. It’s certainly better than winging it or making shit up.
I highlight well thought out opinion because so often when we’re pressed to share our thoughts, they’re anything but well thought out. More often than not, they’re off-the-cuff, half-baked ideas with little knowledge or understanding behind them. Rather than a rational conclusion, they’re a less informed emotional reaction.
Sharing emotional reactions has its place, of course, but I’d argue it’s secondary to having a well thought out opinion. Well thought out takes effort and time. It’s easier and quicker to just react emotionally without examining the issue at hand.
Why do we feel the need? Why is it so difficult to say “I don’t know”? Is it really that bad to be honestly uninformed on a topic?
Is it really realistic to think we can be on top of on everything?
Of course not.
Before sharing an opinion, ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Do I really know what I’m talking about?
- Will sharing what I know really benefit anyone?
All too often, the answer is “no” to both.
More often than not, it’s all just about making ourselves feel better and superior to those around us, often at the cost of sharing misinformation, outrage, or worse.