Let’s start this piece with a little thought experiment.
I am a 19 year old white male from a suburban New Jersey town. I worked my way up to become the Opinion Editor of The Chronicle during my first year of college. I am currently the one who has the final say on opinions published in the newspaper, but does that make me qualified to speak thoughtfully about abortion? Or racial injustice? Most people, myself included, would say no.
However, in today’s age of social media, many believe that there are no limits to the topics we can share our views on. A recent example is how social media reacted to the death of Queen Elizabeth II. As the UK mourned its monarch of more than seven decades, many took to Twitter to poke fun at the late Queen’s passing.
An example of this was used in a recent Newsweek article, where they mentioned a tweet from the comedian Tim Heidecker which read, “If you think the queen’s death and the raid on Mar a Lago are just a coincidence, you’re a fucking fool.
It shows how much people today feel the need to insert their opinion into any discussion, no matter how unnecessary or irrelevant, strictly because they have the opportunity to do so.
In a country where the importance of disinformation can cause people’s understanding of the media to decline, what we as a society must avoid is that someone’s uninformed opinion contributes to the fight we face as a nation. If someone is informed on a certain topic, I believe that adds to a more informed population, something that can benefit us all in the future.
Before social media, if you wanted to share your opinion on the news, you would tell your friends or maybe submit an article like this to a local newspaper. But now, as soon as something big happens, people flock to their nearest keyboard and start slamming things that don’t concern them.
I would say I am guilty of this myself. I share my opinion all the time, whether in this column, or when I complain about sport on Twitter or Instagram. I will never be a professional footballer, so who am I to criticize their efforts? You could even say that this whole piece is hypocritical in its nature. Although I am the opinion editor, I should not be the one to invalidate opinions that others might have. But, in my own defense, I think there’s a pretty thick line that we can all walk on, and I take that line to heart in the position I occupy.
When the Supreme Court’s draft opinion regarding the overturning of Roe v. Wade was released in May, I knew I wanted to post in my section about it. At that moment, I knew I had nothing worth saying, so I said nothing. Instead, The Chronicle’s editor, Nicole McIsaac, chose to voice her own point of view, and I believe our publication was all the better for it. The audience was able to hear the opinion of someone who has a personal connection to the subject rather than someone who would only prove that they know nothing about the subject in question.
In this world, everyone is entitled to have an opinion, and that’s something I will maintain for the rest of my life. However, there are people more qualified than others to make these opinions public. For example, I would trust a Quinnipiac University School of Business professor’s opinion on the state of the economy more than a high school freshman’s opinion.
It was in this state of mind that I took when I received the opinion of McIsaac. I knew she could produce an article a million times more valuable to the public than anything I could have hoped to write on the subject. And I was fine with that. It’s normal to feel that way.
I believe that as a society we need to learn that while we all have our preconceptions about anything, we don’t always have to voice them. I think we should all take a step back and let those who are more qualified do the talking. And if you’re that qualified person, definitely shout your opinions from the rooftops, but think first. It’s not too hard to say.