Photo: Keith Capstick

Editorial: “Think for yourself, because no one else can do it for you”

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By Nicole Schmidt

Each week, filling this space is a challenge for me—not because I don’t have opinions, but because having an opinion that actually matters is hard.

Whenever anything front-page-worthy happens, a slew of “hot takes” flood the internet. Today (and probably every day for the next four years), it’s Trump’s latest circus act. In June, it was Brexit. Each writer promises the same thing: a unique, thought-provoking opinion.

An important part of the news is to analyze it—to think about it critically, and to understand how it affects different people in different ways.

But with the sheer volume of opinionated writers out there, redundancies are inevitable. Regurgitated ideas are chewed up and spit out, sprinkled with adjectives and served cold.

I don’t need someone to tell me that climate change is bad, or that food security is a major issue. I already know that. I made up my mind about Trump a long time ago, and if I read one more story about New Year’s resolutions I may try to drown myself in my coffee cup.

Opinions are hard because there’s a fine balance between honesty and authenticity. Something may be entirely valid, factually accurate and eloquently written. But if it states the obvious, it probably doesn’t matter because it won’t change my mind, and it won’t challenge me to think any differently.

Of course, there are opinions that will never matter—the ones that try to be contentious, but end up being blatantly offensive.

A few years back, John Derbyshire wrote an editorial for Taki’s Magazine about teaching kids to be racist. He advised parents to tell their kids to avoid events “likely to draw a lot of blacks,” and that areas run by black politicians were uninhabitable. (Fuck you.) Then there was Amity Shlaes, who argued in a BloombergView article that sexual harassment could improve the workplace. (Fuck you, too.)

The conclusion here seems simple enough: think for yourself, because no one else can do it for you.

As for my opinion, if you care, that’s nice of you—but you don’t have to.

Until next time…

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