- Roe v Wade
- Climate change
- Recall of the San Francisco District Attorney
- Dog training videos
- My dog’s Instagram account
- Elon Musk buying Twitter
- Will Smith hitting Chris Rock
There are some things on this list I care about. There are some things on this list I am asked my opinion about. The Venn diagram does not completely overlap.
I’ve been asked my opinion on those last two current events lately. “Do you think Twitter will get worse?” “Will Trump be allowed back on?” “Do you think Rock’s joke was that egregious?”
I’ve seen articles about what is and is not free speech on social media, what may or may not have happened if both Rock and Smith were white. I’ve seen tweets and Instagram stories from every sort of person, who suddenly all have an opinion about all of this.
And by suddenly, I mean seemingly immediately. Not after their own introspection or drawing on their own life experiences or after learning a little more from experts about the issues at hand. This isn’t a “stay in your lane” comment but a “how can you possibly even care?”
I don’t remember which friend it was who asked which question, but at some point I actually said, “You know what? I don’t really care enough to have an opinion.”
This statement opened some sort of valve for me. It’s relieving to think I don’t have to care about everything. That I, Erin, don’t have to have an opinion and honestly it won’t really matter. I don’t care enough to be informed about everything, meaning I’m not informed enough to have an opinion, meaning I’m not opinionated enough to express my views to anyone.
It’s the same way I don’t really care about science fiction, or electronics, or Rubik’s cubes, or Dungeons and Dragons, or baseball, or knitting. I can appreciate their value and be happy that others are really interested in them, but I’m not going to spend any of my brain power formulating opinions let alone have a conversation about them. We all have our varying interests, and passions, which is great and interesting and we usually find ourselves wanting to at least learn from someone else what makes them love this thing that we don’t.
And yet, when it comes to current events (especially when it’s shocking stuff that happens quickly and then disappears from view), it seems to me that opinions are thrown around without much thought, by people who may not really care but think they’re somehow supposed to care, for their followers or to be provocative, I guess. (Dare I say, from a total unscientific hunch, that it seems to be mostly white men who throw around opinions like confetti? Especially in the comments section of anyone who doesn’t look like them? There’s some level of entitlement that allows people to think that people even care about their opinion in the first place.)
But do you have an acquaintance like that, who seems to have an opinion on everything? Let me guess, does that person also always need to be right? I’ve totally been that person. I love being right! And saying “I don’t care” recently made me realize: it’s exhausting to be that person. It means I have zero filter on the input that sticks in my brain. It means I can learn absolutely zero from anyone else because I’m sure I’m right so won’t change my mind and spend all the time you’re talking not listening but scripting out my response.
It means I’m not being discerning about the really important things I want to spend my time learning about to formulate an opinion—and then actually act upon what I believe. I mean, can’t we all acknowledge when something is important and something interesting to analyze but trust that people with more information are working on it? Like, I may have an opinion about how traffic flows in an intersection, and may groan, “Why don’t they just put in a left-turn arrow here,” but in the end, I trust traffic engineers to have the kind of opinions that are actionable. I don’t get all indignant about it on social media and leave messages with my Supervisor. But guess what? Someone else is. Doesn’t mean I have to. I can save my energy to put towards something that I prioritize more in my life (like perhaps closing the road altogether to make a park).
The way I see it, the kinds of opinions that are made immediately, based on whatever your social media feed is telling you, means they’re not really defensible. They’re not based on your morals or the facts you have. And those kinds of opinions are the ones you tend to dig in their heels for the most, even in the fact of contradicting or changing evidence. On an extreme scale, it’s the reason why people can believe the earth is flat or whatever your favorite conspiracy theory is.
There’s so much in this world to get worked up over. But what if you didn’t have to yourself, individually, care about all of it? What if you could bottle up that caring and save it for what you’re really passionate about? What if all those angry people on Twitter could also do that? Now there’s an opinion about Twitter I could get behind!
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