Opinion writing vs. blowing off steam

Everybody has an opinion. Everybody.

And everybody is voicing them.

Print, online and on air; written, visual and audible, there is no escaping the myriad of mediums available to share our views. From social media musings of our chia tea at the local café to award-winning opinion writing, everyone is opining.

Yet, let us not confuse opinion writing with social media sound off or blowing off steam.

Being a writer nowadays is both easier and harder. Easier because there are so many mediums to publish at. Harder because there are so many mediums to publish at. That’s a writer’s riddle. If you’re a writer you probably get it.

Unfortunately, all these new mediums don’t necessarily result in “paid” opportunities for writers. Readers may feel frustrated when they hit a pay wall. Writers are used to them.

But we write anyway.

It’s like one of those options we come up with when we’re contemplating our life’s purpose and someone asks: well, what is it you would do even if you didn’t get paid for it?

Write. Right? That’s what every writer would say.

And thankfully we do. Whether we realize it or not, agree with it, like it or understand it, the human universal operating system is opinion. From our choice of toothpaste to our choice of president, every decision we make is based on our personal perspective of what’s presented to us. But how lost we would be if we listened only to ourselves.

“Professional” opinion writers have a greater task than simply sounding off. Although their published pieces are still their opinion, their voices are presented in professional manner, which could be a reason we tune in to them.

Both personal and professional opinions are valuable.

Anyone raised from the “because I said so” mindset of yesterday knows that it left no room for personal opinion or perspective to be voiced. I always had my own thoughts, viewpoints and conclusions, as I’m sure you do, too. My behavior bucked yesterday’s misguidance, irritated others and bestowed me with a “that one there” tagline. That one there will let you talk until you’re blue in the face and then does whatever she wants. I knew then what I know now: listening to the viewpoints of others is necessary before making a decision.  

I have great respect for opinion writers. Without them I’d be operating from a confined because I said so mindset. Opinion is important. Opinion writers are important. Professional opinion writers are very important because they conclude from a myriad of different angles. Opinion helps us understand the world.

So keep opining. Keep reading. Keep open to seeing perspectives other than your own. And while we may not reach the professional proficiency that Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Ernie Pyle did, we can at least aspire to using our God-given heart, mind and voices to touch lives and topics the way he did.