Daily Egyptian

You’re Dumb and Wrong: Opinion pieces will never change someone’s mind

By Jeremy Brown, Arts & Entertainment Editor

It’s only three weeks in and I’m trying to be meta. It’s also only three weeks in and my editor’s going to tell me “meta” isn’t a word.

Originally, I was going to make a specific, neurotic column about people’s attention spans during pop songs that are only four minutes long anyway.

It was really just a petty way for me to explain why I hate Toto’s “Africa,” but I scrapped the idea because I realized something crucial for this column to actually work- it wasn’t inflammatory enough.

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No one reads these columns because they agree with me and I don’t expect to change anyone’s minds. In fact, I don’t know a single think piece that’s changed anyone’s opinion on any subject in any way.

The only reason I can see that someone would read this is because they know me (hi mom,) or they think I’m a moron (hi Red Dead Redemption II fans.)

Writers my age have been taught since elementary school that in this form, they’re writing a “persuasive essay.” But if someone’s educated on the topic you’re arguing for, they’ve already made up their mind on it and will preemptively agree or disagree with your thesis. If they aren’t educated on the topic, they won’t be interested in the first place because they don’t care.

This is all abstract info until I use an example, so I’ll use last week’s column because I’m arrogant. I made fun of film buffs for their excessive, unhinged appreciation for movies because they’ll talk your ear off.

I knew I couldn’t get away with making direct jokes roasting a group of people or as my editor puts it “alienating our readers.” However, if I didn’t get film buffs angry/insulted by my headline, no one was going to read it.

I needed to make myself the butt of the jokes just as much as anyone else, otherwise my argument would be deflected with “well you just don’t get it.”

It’s a sad but real problem that anyone wanting views on the internet has – how do you get someone to listen to what you have to say? People don’t care about hearing what they already know, and unless you’re the first to say the popular opinion, no one cares that you also found Black Panther really eye-opening as another white guy.

An obnoxious and stupid way that many websites try to solve this problem is by making vague headlines, like “God of War needed a soft reboot. So did I.” from Escapist Magazine. While the article itself is actually interesting, this headline tells you nothing about what you’ll read other than it’s going to be about the author. 

Opinion writers should be aiming for constructive discourse–a mutual respect with readers in agreeing to disagree. Find the common ground in which a reader sees where you’re coming from on a topic, and can empathize with why you have the stance that you do.

Granted, I haven’t found that common ground yet. Especially when everyone I know refuses to believe it’s even possible for someone to freaking loathe Toto. 

Editor’s note: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of The Daily Egyptian, its staff or its associates. 

You’re Dumb and Wrong is a weekly column about video games, movies and popular entertainment from local film snob Jeremy Brown. Brown can be reached at [email protected]

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