OPINION: Seeking Out Before Speaking Out

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Several major events fed into the media the past few weeks. There’s the conflict between Israel and Hamas in Gaza. The killing of Michael Brown and the following protests. The Islamic State of Iraq and Greater Syria. 

Even the ice bucket challenge has sparked commentary and controversy.

It’s great that so many people actually pay attention to these events and think about them. As educated students, we need to be a part of those discussions. But we also need to be informed about these major events before broadcasting opinions about them.

I know; I know. “It’s the world of social media, Leeann. I’m entitled to broadcast my opinion!” Okay, yes, you can do whatever you want on your Facebook and Twitter accounts. But strongly agreeing or disagreeing on a topic without facts to support that view does more harm than good.

The Internet that we love so much does more than just divulge what your sister ate for breakfast and who won last night’s baseball game. It also tells you where the Gaza Strip is, just what ISIS stands for and why Ferguson is so angry about the death of an eighteen-year-old male.

Once you get started, you can’t stop. You won’t stop. There’s a myriad of information about any current event in which you might be interested.

Only when supplied with an arsenal of information will you be able to form a clear opinion on a topic. Rushing to hasty conclusions based on another person’s opinion or an article you saw on Facebook only perpetrates irregularities and falsehoods.

When you have facts to back-up your opinion, you can do something about it. Explaining to your friends why you think the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge is a detriment to other charities will go over better if you can point to specific reasons why you’ve come to that conclusion. You’re more likely to persuade them and gain respect that way.

It’s what DePauw continuously tries to teach us. Take in the information, develop your thoughts and opinions on it, and then explain your position (either by writing or speaking). Critical thinking isn’t just for the classroom; it’s for the real world, too.

I love to be right. However, college has taught me that being right is not the most important thing. My friends, not only my professors, taught me the greater importance of learning more. It’s much better to be educated and able to support a position than to simply be right.

Looking at an event’s face value is good on some level. You’re engaging in the world around you and acknowledging there’s more to life than what happens in Greencastle.

But that’s not enough. Claiming how evil you think ISIS is does nothing when you can’t explain why. Just as a professor won’t accept a paper without any evidence, the real world (and, if you’re lucky, your peers) won’t accept your opinion if there’s not any thinking behind it.

So the next time a major current event catches your attention, turn to Google before you turn to Twitter. Information makes life so much more interesting and gives you the power to go out and do something about the causes and situations important to you.

 

Sausser is a junior English writing/history major from Indianapolis.