No, your opinion is not always valuable
If you’ve been on the internet for longer than about…oh…two seconds, you’ve seen it. There’s a point in some arguments where someone says:
;.; I guess I’m not entitled to an opinion any longer!
Somehow, I wonder if they post this and think it is going to change the argument. Maybe they’re imagining everyone will read it and crowd around and pat them on the back and say, “No, no, you’re entitled to an opinion! We’re sorry!”
But it always strikes me as weird and self-centered. Nobody questions whether anyone is entitled to have an opinion. The only question is whether that opinion is one anyone should care about.
Let me give an example. I’m entitled to have an opinion about who is going to win the World Series. Should you listen to my opinion on that subject? Hell, no. I vaguely think that the World Series is baseball (and for purposes of this post I am not Wikipeding it, so if I am wrong, my ignorance will stand in its FULL GLORY, and since I am the person who asked once whether the NFL had a national championship game…the odds of my being wrong are high), and I vaguely remember a few baseball teams…um…Boston Red Sox? Braves? Yankees? Cubs? The Oakland A’s? I think I have now named all the baseball teams I know, and I hope they are all baseball teams. (Again, not using Wikipedia, so if I am wrong, this tells you how little I know). (Also, if I am right, I’m going to be so excited.)
The only thing I am certain of is that the Cubs will not be winning the World Series–I lived in Chicago long enough to know that’s destiny.
But I do have an opinion. I think the A’s should win this year. That would be cool. I used to see the stadium from the BART, so why not? I have an opinion! I’m entitled to it!
But…I don’t expect anyone else to care about my opinion, and it would be weird if I did. I am one of the least qualified people to opine on that particular subject. I don’t know any stats; hell, I barely know what the stats mean. I can’t name a single baseball player. Why would you care what I think?
Whenever someone pulls the super-ridiculous attempted guilt trip where they make frowny emoticons and say, “I guess I’m just not allowed to have an opinion any longer!” I want to roll my eyes.
That’s deeply self-centered. You’re allowed to have an opinion; it’s just that the things you are saying demonstrate that you have almost no experience with the subject matter. You are actually asking for other people to care about your opinion.
And the assumption that other people–people who are not related to you–should care about your opinion when you have no background experience? That’s just weird. Why would you imagine they should?
If you’re the kind of person who thinks that everyone should care about all your opinions, stop. That’s self-centered. Figure out what things you really know about, and how well you know them. Then, when you talk about those things, give reasons based on your actual knowledge. When you do that, you’ll find that people (not all of them! but many of them!) care without your having to tell them that they should.