Hot Take: Opinions Are Not Hot Takes and Condescension is Dumb

The easiest way to diminish the opinion of another is by way of belittling the person as having a hot take. Well, that and the condescension one can feel oozing from the mean streets of Twitter as the person doing the belittling is doing his or her best Greg Giraldo at a roast routine.

Part of this is somewhat understandable, though. Especially for those who scribble their words for the big boy networks. Minute after minute, high-profile writer is coming under scrutiny from random folks on social media. An egg tells them that their 1,000 word column on something they worked tirelessly on, likely making multiple efforts to find data to back up their opinion, is straight trash.

Naturally, that writer is going to come back to the egg with all the insults and treat them in such a dismissive way that the egg could be heard sobbing from a few miles down the road.

There is a negative to this, however. The continuous onslaught of insults media-type have to deal with on a day-to-day basis has resulted in less discussions being had on social media. Instead, it is a consistent string of people being so defensive that sometimes the writer is being condescending to someone who might have made a valid point, was asking a sincere question, or was simply wrong.

Being wrong is okay, too. That is a thing that is fine, I promise. Not a single person walking this planet — paid to discuss sports or not — is correct 100 percent of the time. In fact, with so many fluid variables forever at play, it is rather shocking how good the insights writers provide actually are.

Thing is, the same compliment could be paid to the Twitter egg, the fellow with 23 followers, or Aunt Lucy — who inexplicably lives four houses down the road, and she never leaves me the fudge alone.

Eh. I digress…

Point being: We could be using social media better. The purpose of the tool wasn’t to bully others, though some to seem to deserve that treatment. It was to help create a smaller world and help us all gather information, insights, entertainment needs, and the like, all in an easy manner.

Really, at its best, social media is an enlightening tool. One, if used with an open-mind, can make us all better people. Then again, the idea of it is often not how it is used in practice. Kind of like Democracy. We all love the idea of it, but are any of us not dead-set in our ways enough to let it work to our advantage?

Now, one could argue that it isn’t a good thing that Twitter has shortened the gap between media/athlete and random human, and there’s often good reason to treat another with the same disrespect s/he treated us, but there’s more layers to this.

I’m not even sure we (media) know what we are talking about half the time anyway. Not in terms relative to what we’re writing, but to how we view what it is that we do.

Some writers do this simply for the love of it. There’s no large endgame down the road. To others, it is an art form of sorts. Then, there’s the true professionals in the business. Journalistic types and guys so good at writing features that it is more entertaining than good fiction. Oh, and there’s also about eleventy-billion different variations of writer-types not mentioned and even a subset of variations of those.

This can often result on media vs media Twitter violence. High-volume blogger extraordinaire (who is admirably invested in his or her style of writing) will never see eye-to-eye with traditional media types (also admirably invested in their own approach).

While there should be an understanding that both provide incredibly different content — sometimes the type that even compliment each other — bloggers vs traditional media is a thing somehow. Even though everyone should be on the same team.

We’re all writers, right? Some of us better than others, sure. At the same time — save for a few rather clickbaity exceptions — we’re in this for similar-ish reasons. We love to write about sports. How we choose to write about it differs from person to person, but so what? Each chef prepares their meals different. It shouldn’t be that different with Internet scribbling.

Second point being: For those who do this for a living, or at least try to, there’s simply not enough jobs for all of us to survive. Furthermore, there’s sometimes a lot of soul-selling needed to get by as one waits for the right gig to open up to use one’s abilities they feel fits their skills and wants best.

So, yeah — it isn’t only egg avatar being belittled by media dude; it is also media person treating another media person as a lesser version of them.

It is as if some people have been keeping an unofficial power rankings of where certain types of online scribblers rank. High-volume blogging bad at BSO? But good at NBC Sports? Or bad at both? Or is it that satire pieces are horrible, or features on weird subjects are the worst, or that whatever the million other things happen to be?

Same goes for the now dreaded long form debate. People who are paid to critique media can’t even define what a long form is. Yet, they have no qualms in discussing its merits. This, too, resulted in less of a discussion about it on Twitter, and more a defiant one side who wants to write off an entire genre they can’t actually define vs another side who is invested in the genre — who might not admit it has flaws.

Here is what I am saying — I think (?) — in the most roundabout way as humanly possible: Not everything has to be You (me) vs Them. Nor does it all have to inevitably result in the belittling of another person who simply has another opinion. One that differs from our own.

My values are not your values. Your values are not mine. There’s nothing wrong with that.

The same applies to those based in the realm that dances on the line of presenting opinions as fact. I mean, honestly, none of us have a crystal ball and there’s little reason to pretend like we do. Being a bit more open to the idea that we are all a bit flawed, jaded, bias, and whatnot, can help us go a long way in learning more.

That said, and I can speak from personal experience, it is most certainly frustrating when a random drops in your mentions to question your work. I watch, very literally, eight hours (if not more) of college basketball per day. I also read thousands of words a day. All in an attempt to be as informed as possible. Whenever a person calls me “dumb” or says “this is the worst thing I ever read” it hurts. It sincerely, truly, and honestly hurts. When you couple in the fact that I’m as insecure about my writing as anything in the history of history, it all stinks.

Even with that being the case, I don’t lack a ton of self-awareness. I know that’s my writing is rather flawed. I’m not exactly a vocabulary wordsmith. Not to mention that I often have poor sentence structure, iffy choices of grammar, and my ‘style’ of writing sometimes looks at the “niche” genre, then jumps off a cliff.

It is why some — but certainly not all — search for validation through other writers. For me, whenever someone I respect says nice words about something I scribbled, I become filled with pure and unadulterated glee. And who can blame me? Being told “your pretty” is far better than the insults we regularly get on Twitter. At the same time, all of us constantly telling each other that we are pretty is counterproductive. You see, everyone has a bad hair day from time to time. That’s okay, too.

At the same time, there’s no need for me to instantly “go after” the mean Twitter person. Hell, maybe I was wrong. Lost in my daze of a billion hours of shooty hoops, I could have simply missed something, and/or it could have been horrible written.

Or, you know, that person in my mentions can be the worst person in the world — and, well, doesn’t dignify a response.

As it is with TV shows we don’t like, sports personalities we feel are bad, and everything else that exists solely because we allow it by giving it attention: If we don’t like something and we ignore it, it tends to go away. With that being said, I’m advocating we go a little more that route instead of the condescension one we more than often choose.

I’d rather us all be more open to each other. Breaking down any good old boys network, begin to realize that not every writer in “our” network is great while every writer in another network is the worst, and an attempt at growing this writing thing — whatever the hell this writing thing is — to another level by not allowing our insecurities and fears to cause us all to be giant Jerkface McGoos on Twitter.

Um… Well… maybe we will start tomorrow. I have something I need to take care of first.

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