How to Have an Opinion

Okay here we go. I don’t know whether it’s because we’re old enough to be expected to have perspectives on what’s going on, or because the proverbial s#%t is internationally hitting the fan, but I can confidently declare that society is officially deteriorating. Domestic and international bomb threats, a government shut-down, claims of a refugee crisis, and five new Kardashian babies have all been heavily featured in the news just in the last year.

And because we want to appear to be “in the know,” these news bites manage to find their way onto our respective instagram timelines. As internationally educated students, we are entitled to share our opinions about the world and expressing these opinions is not synonymous with being a jerk.  Still, there is a right way and a wrong way to have an opinion.  With absolutely no expectation for your eternal gratitude, I offer up a surefire way to keep yourself safely on the right side of the continuum:

There is a right way and a wrong way to have an opinion. 

1. Know your facts

Before you go all Piers Morgan on your verbal opponent, for the love of god, make sure you have your facts straight. There’s nothing worse than being deep into an debate about animal rights then to have someone question a statistic that you may or may not have made up on the spot. Gather real, accredited facts and thrown them at your opponent with gumption.

2. Poker Face

To clarify, when I say throw them at your opponent, I don’t mean in an angry, guns’ a blazin’ Social Justice Warrior on a liberal arts campus fashion. A calm, serious disposition will get you much more respect, not to mention listeners. The key to having your voice heard is in the presentation—and, no, the one screaming loudest is not always right; the more obnoxious the delivery, the quicker people will tune out.

3. Form your own opinion

Don’t reiterate that headline you spotted at the top of your Buzzfeed newsfeed this morning. Here’s a tip: the little words under the big words do a great deal to explain what the big words mean. Once you’re educated on all sides of an argument, it’s only then you can start to form your own opinion. Just because your friends or family shared some rinky-dink political blog to their facebook timeline doesn’t mean it’s the gospel truth. Find your own reliable sources, and make sure you can trust them. Consider the counter argument (you know they will; be ready).  Now go get ’em.

4. Stand by what you declare

If you’re gonna open your mouth, make sure what comes out is worth everyone around you’s time. I’m not talking about what you’re saying, but in the matter you’re presenting it. Avoid opening with babble like:

“I don’t know, it’s just..”

“This might be wrong, but..”


Keep those likes, sos, and yeahs, far away from your heated conversation. They only serve to distract from the impenetrable argument you’re having.

An open mind and the ability to form and defend an opinion are vital to the progress of our modern society. Just make sure you’re doing so in a well prepared, intelligent, and socially acceptable manner.

At least, that’s just my opinion. 

Author: Christina McDougall

SAS senior Christina McDougall, aspiring to be the next Amy Poehler, spends her free time doing nothing to reach that goal. While judging people based on how they use "you're" vs "your" on social media, she also likes chicken nuggets, being half Australian, and getting into fights with 12 year olds on Twitter. She can be contacted at

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