Opinions create legitimacy, so be judicious

By The Beacon | October 10, 2013 1:01am

By Megan Lester |

Opinions are a form of currency. Politicians spend obscene amounts of money to curry favor with the populace. Books are instant bestsellers if Oprah likes them. Once Myspace stopped being “cool” its net worth was diminished by over $500 million. Your opinion is money. What are you investing in?

Our opinions - good or bad - give things power, meaning and importance. The media know this and demand that we invest in judging others. If we didn’t bother forming opinions about a “real” housewife of New Jersey, the franchise would disappear.

Consider this: by continually assessing how you feel about twerking, you become someone who cares about twerking. If we didn’t care, it wouldn’t matter.

True, opinions about Miley Cyrus can start conversations about gender issues or cultural appropriation, but so can news stories, friendship, literature and a million other things that don’t betray our society as one that values fame regardless of talent and appearance above character.

I concede that conversations are vital regardless of their beginnings. It’s true, too, that pop culture icons are an accessible vehicle for the general public, and thus effective in starting large-scale dialogue. But Cyrus is only a pop culture icon because we made her one. She is only an effective example because people talk about her (including myself, right now).

When we stop delineating what we think about people we don’t know, we stop caring about the intricacies of their lives, and we start focusing on important issues. Three percent of our federal budget goes toward education … who cares if Nicki Minaj got butt implants?

I know what I’m advocating here isn’t foolproof. Having opinions is not the only way social change can take place, and watching women act like middle school girls on television can be entertaining.

But I still think we apply our hyper-criticism to too many areas of life. The cosmetic industry is banking on our harsh opinions. We are subliminally trained to dislike ourselves. If everyone saw they were already easy, breezy and beautiful, Americans wouldn’t be spending $11 billion on cosmetics and weeks of our lives in front of a mirror.

In summary, yes, please have informed opinions about important things or things that are of interest to you, but don’t let your opinion subsidize a damaging aspect of society. Maybe when we stop asking ourselves, “What do I think about this?” we’ll find that it really doesn’t matter.

This opinion piece may seem like a cop-out because however you feel about it is nullified by my saying we should be less critical of others. It may also seem counterintuitive that I should spend time writing an opinion piece about abandoning opinions.

...Yeah…well, that's just, like, your opinion, man.

Megan Lester is a junior English major. She can be reached lester15@up.edu.