African American Girls

Why did Solange go off on her brother-in-law Jay Z?

Why didn’t Beyonce check her sister for going off?

Who is #felonbae really and why are women (and men) trippin’ over his blue-gray eyes?

Should Malia Obama have gotten the hook-up for her first internship or nah?

Blah, blah, *eye roll* blah.

Everyone has an opinion nowadays. Which is cool, I guess. I, too, am an opinionated person, hence my chosen profession.

I want my daughter to also be opinionated. She’s certainly well on her way with all her toddler analysis on why she should go outside or why cookies are better for dinner or why she doesn’t WANNA go to sleep. I mean, this chick really thinks this stuff through and won’t stop pressing me until she runs out of steam and just ends with “…because!”

So yes, I like opinions because they are usually the result of some degree of critical thinking.

Usually.

But then there are the other kinds. The baseless ones. The pointless ones. The ones spewed more as a reflex than from any real contemplation or knowledge. The ones better left under mental lock and key… not because they are necessarily bad… but because sharing them serves no one. At all. Not even the person giving them.

And yes, I’m torn about this subject because I am a writer. And a blogger. The very nature of what I do is… ahem… share my opinion (although I prefer the kinder, gentler word, “perspective”). Trust… the irony is not lost on me that writing a blog about the general population’s excessive need to share their opinions is, in fact, an unasked for opinion itself.

Lol.

The truth is, I’m all for well-researched opinion pieces, blogs written with intention, and thought-provoking Facebook statuses. I’ve found that those who do this well are generally those who express an opinion with a specific goal in mind. For instance, I don’t mind hearing your opinion on the “ridiculous nepotism in the White House” if it is evident that you desire to enlighten me, challenge me, or even amuse me. Sure, I might still think your opinion is stupid but I can respect your intent; your thoughtfulness on the matter.

But stating an opinion for opinion’s sake or just to rile up a particular group without any rhyme or reason is the equivalent of my nearly three-year-old daughter’s response when she’s finally reached her end: “…because!”

At that point, you sir or madam, are simply an internet troll.

Here’s an example:

Baseless opinion: Reality shows suck!

Okay, good to know. I might even be right. But what’s my point? Am I simply trying to provoke an argument with those who watch reality shows regularly? Or am I just venting? (Frankly, I’m not sure why something we can so easily NOT VIEW would make us need to vent)

SIDEBAR: Please know that I’m not addressing anyone’s RIGHT to say what they want, when they want. We all know that, in the U.S. at least, you can say pretty much what you want. But just because you have the RIGHT to say something doesn’t mean that it is wise to do so.

Thoughtful opinion: The portrayal of women on “alleged” reality shows is horribly narrow and unrealistic.

So I’m still saying, in a sense, reality shows suck. Particularly those featuring women. But my opinion has legs. Discussion can ensue. The point is seemingly straightforward: I prefer more broad, realistic portrayals. It’s a position that can be supported. Or not. We all can go somewhere with it. Or not. Oh the possibilities!

Social media and our 24-hour society has created a kind of twisted self-importance in so many of us. We actually believe that everyone wants to know (or even cares) what we think about something. I wonder if this is a kind of narcissism. Since we now have wider access to diverse groups of people, do we somehow feel entitled to share our every opinion, valid or otherwise, about everything to every daggone person—just because we can?

Fools find no pleasure in understanding but delight in airing their own opinions. Proverbs 18:2

Welp.

Here’s the thing: As much as I want my daughter to think critically about subjects that matter to her and feel free to express and even defend her opinion on them, I also want to teach her that she doesn’t have to share EVERY opinion she has. She can be selective in what she shares. “Don’t show your hand too quickly,” I’ll tell her. I want her to think through her intent for expressing her thoughts and evaluate her motives. I want her to ask herself the same questions I’m asking myself right now: “Am I giving my opinion because I want understanding or to empower someone else with a new way of seeing a thing or, is it just to foolishly revel in hearing my own voice (or seeing my own words)?”

I believe the power to change the minds of many—or to do what our words are supposed to do which is empower—all lies in our ability to manage well the dissemination of our opinions.

Plus, no one really cares why YOU or I think Solange snapped. Probably least of all… Solange.

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Tracey Michae'l

Tracey Michae'l is a writer and educator based out of the Philadelphia area. She is a wife to William and a mother to a beautiful two-year old little girl. You can find her on the web at www.traceymlewis.com.

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