OPINION: There is power in shutting the hell up

A closeup of a person's nose and mouth: the seam of the mouth contains a black zipper with a gold end dangling from the lip
Graphic by Anaga Srinivas

At this juncture in my TSL career, I’ve reached an impasse. It feels as though I’ve already written (or been heavily discouraged from writing) my hottest takes.

And yet, as an opinions staff writer, I’m expected to contribute a new article every week, even when the metaphorical well has run dry.

My “hot take” of the week is simply this: Sometimes, there is absolutely power in shutting the hell up.

Expecting a writer, particularly one whose ideas are generated internally (i.e., opinions writers or columnists), to produce work at such a frequent basis, even in the absence of inspiration, perpetuates a capitalist regime that the Claremont Colleges ostensibly oppose. 

Another brick in the wall, another cog in the machine … another blueprint in the “opinions-filed” channel on Slack. Productivity over creativity.

Despite the expectation that staff writers contribute new pieces weekly, I’ll admit that in the past I have shirked that responsibility, in the name of authorial integrity and not resorting to what I call “tepid takes.” 

Examples include “racism is bad,” “our institutions don’t support POC/FLI students,” “Jeff Epstein didn’t kill himself” and similar takes we already agree with.

For all my readers with taste, let me put this into more concrete terms: Lana Del Rey took two years to make her most recent album, “Norman Fucking Rockwell!” While fans were no doubt anxious in the interim (myself included), the end result was nothing short of magnificent.

Now compare that to her fourth album, “Honeymoon,” one she only took a year to complete. While fans no doubt received immediate gratification, the album was objectively not as good as those that came before it and those that followed, each of which took around two years to make.

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The fact that I have now resorted to writing an opinions article about why people should not be expected to produce opinions articles on demand is a testament to this principle. (Or maybe it’s meta. I’m just an English minor, I couldn’t tell you.)

As an extension of this, I feel that it often shows, in either the quality of the language or the overall tone, whether or not somebody is passionate about something they’ve written, whether or not they feel it is truly a reflection of their beliefs.

Think back to the last class you took requiring weekly Sakai posts. Inevitably, you came upon a few that were almost incomprehensible, so grandiloquent and convoluted that their true meaning was little else than “I really just do not have anything important to say, and will therefore utilize erudite vernacular irrespective of necessity.”

Opinion is the lowest form of knowledge. Most opinions, I’d say, we take for granted. My favorite color is lavender, I prefer cats to dogs and I have a borderline kinky obsession with artichokes.

And yet, you won’t find me writing an article about any of these things (well, maybe about the artichokes). The point is, most opinions are mundane and in no way deserving of disclosure.

When we over-share our opinions, we begin to be perceived in certain (usually negative) ways. If you exhaust your audience with nine tepid takes before dazzling them with a truly hot take, the impact will be lessened, and by that point your audience may not care at all. 

Sometimes it would benefit us to stand back, to remain reticent until we have something of value to contribute.

And until we reach that point, I see no harm in staying silent. But, hey, that’s just my opinion.

Cameron Tipton PO ’20 is a fierce bitch. They like their tea like they like their takes: dark, steamy and generally too hot for everyone else to handle.

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