The definition of the word opinion, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary:
a : a view, judgment, or appraisal formed in the mind about a particular matter b : approval, esteem
a : belief stronger than impression and less strong than positive knowledge b : a generally held view
a : a formal expression of judgment or advice by an expert b : the formal expression (as by a judge, court, or referee) of the legal reasons and principles upon which a legal decision is based
Opinionated is the adjective form.
To quote the ever succinct Harry Callahan in The Dead Pool (and make sure you squint your eyes when you read this–>), “Opinions are like assholes; everybody’s got one.” Meaning they sometimes stink. And please, for the love of black-eyed peas and cornbread, don’t interpret that to mean I’m calling anyone with an opinion an asshole because…
I am opinionated, and I freely own up to it. Isn’t everyone? No, really, opinions are what makes the world go around. We offer them up about virtually everything, from the coffee we drink in the mornings to the votes we cast in the ballot box. Sometimes they’re made very publicly, sometimes they’re not even verbal. Sometimes they’re full of facts, sometimes they’re full of shit. Sometimes they’re necessary, sometimes…not. Even in writing this I’m giving an opinion on, well, opinions.
Some of us give them more freely(*waving*), despite whether or not others want to hear them. Some don’t give them at all unless asked, and even then they tend to say what they think you want to hear, not what’s really on their mind. And, to me anyway, that’s not the right thing to do, even if you’re trying to keep the peace with the significant other or avoid hurting someone’s feelings.
Think about the tired example of the wife asking, “Honey, do these pants make me look fat?” The husband replies, “Baby, you look great!”, if he knows what’s good for him, right? But what if the wife wears those tight pants out to dinner, bends over to pick up her purse and rips open the seam down the back, exposing her ass to everyone in the restaurant. Who’s she going to be mad at? The husband, because he told her she looked great. The poor dude was only trying to please her. Whereas if he would’ve been honest with her in the first place, her feelings might’ve been hurt but she wouldn’t have embarrassed herself in public either. It’s not necessarily right that her anger is directed at him but HE SAID she looked great so it’s ALL HIS FAULT. Never mind that there was a little voice inside her head telling her those pants were too tight, otherwise she wouldn’t have asked in the first place.
Ah, there I’ve touched on something: When we ask for someone’s opinion, are we really asking for their approval? I think yes.
When someone’s opinion agrees with your’s, you feel better about yourself. You were right. I am smart and correct! Listen to me because I know everything! I look amazing in these tight pants, despite the fact that I can’t breathe and I have a horrible case of camel toe.
But if they disagree with you, this makes us unhappy. We’re forced to think harder or make changes. We grumble that they’re wrong, they’re stupid, and what do they know anyway!
My husband would reply, “Well, then why did you ask me what I thought?” Ooh, that man…and dammit, he’s usually got a point. Usually. I’ll never say he’s always right. Nope. Nuh-uh. Nevah!!
Now then, kids, there are ways to make our opinions more palatable, like being respectful and calm. By giving valid and well thought out reasons for why we feel the way we do. It’s not a requirement but it certainly helps it go down better. Sugar tastes better than vinegar. But there again, if you want to simply say “I hate it!”, you have that right too. Doesn’t make it any less valid or worthy of consideration.
I’m not sure why I wrote this ramblefest and I’m terribly sorry if I’m boring you to death. Perhaps it was to remind my alter ego to tone down the snark a bit when she goes on one of her long rants about political signs or road construction or bad drivers over on Facebook. Maybe it was to remind my writerly self that the bad reviews of my work are eventually coming (*gasp*), and I have to act like an adult, learn something from it and move on.
See, there’s been a lot of writers behaving badly lately in the book world by responding publicly to negative reviews, which is just a flat-out no-no. Nothing good ever comes of it. It only breeds more negativity so the best thing to do is nothing. Shut. The. F**k. Up. Resist that intense, overwhelming urge to respond defensively with every fiber of your being. Your opinion about their opinion will not go over well. That’s when it becomes an argument and everything goes downhill from there faster than you can say “banned list”. It’s the digital age and that crap NEVER goes away.
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and whether you agree with it or not, you have to respect it. Remember Harry’s words. You, the writer, asked for it when you put your book out for public consumption. Doesn’t make it hurt any less but put on your big girl panties- or boy briefs, as the case may be - and behave like a grown up. If you’re smart you’ll remember that critique and work harder on your next piece. And doesn’t that really apply to everything? Now if only people would listen. Ha!
Think about it this way too: What if we never had an opinion on anything? What kind of world would that be?