This is an opinion piece.
I’ve gone through at least six different topics trying to decide what to write this column about. I get about halfway through a piece, realize I’m not saying anything novel and junk it. Novelty isn’t the standard for a good argument, but I’d rather not just sound like everyone else, which is too easy to do these days.
On the news and social media, everyone has an opinion. Take any topic, and those for it and those opposed usually spit practiced arguments supporting their side’s established narrative. My worst fear when writing an opinion piece is sounding like that; like I’m toeing a party line, espousing hackneyed arguments already made by my betters.
I’ve recently taken comfort in a quote: “Not everything requires a response.” I don’t know who said it, but it rings true. Most of us crave conflict in one way or another and have a hard time resisting the urge to have our side heard when all we really need to be worried about it ourselves.
If “they” could just hear what you have to say, they would understand how wrong they are. However, this corrective impulse is less about fixing false information than it is about self-promotion. Responding can give us a false sense of dominance and misplaced feelings of responsibility.
Anecdotally, I’ve seen this with some irate responses over the most trivial things on The Reporter’s Facebook page. People love pointing out mistakes no matter how small (which is sometimes appreciated when it’s not accompanied by negativity and six exclamation points) as if they never erred in their life.
On the flipside, I’ve languished over responding to such comments on some of my own work, spending hours crafting a pithy rejoinder in my head until ultimately talking myself out of it.
I realize, once my temper cools, that the best response would be to better my craft and deepen my thinking, so my work can speak for itself.
Opinions are cheap, nuance is hard and society rewards the inflammatory. But that way lies madness of both kinds. Not all things require a response, but some do. If a cost-benefit analysis lands you on the side of the latter, then, by all means, state your case.
Daniel Taylor is a staff writer for The Reporter. His email is email@example.com.