Expressing opinions on social media and the deterioration of campus voices


Emily Smith, Editor-in-Chief

During the three and half years that I have spent working at The Inkwell, the campus voices section of the newspaper has become increasingly more difficult to include each week. This section entails a member of the editorial board or myself walking around campus and asking a handful of people the same question, writing down their opinions and taking their headshots (pictured above.)

In the past,readers have criticized fun, lighthearted questions that we’ve asked, saying that we should be asking about more important issues.

And I agree with that. I think having a balance of serious and fun questions for campus voices is best.

In recent weeks, we have continually asked more thought provoking questions. We’ve asked about students’ positions on Obama’s executive decision to protect Planned Parenthood funding, the prevalence of alcohol on campus, Colin Kaepernick’s protests at games, etc.

But when The Inkwell asks serious questions like these, it is very hard/ almost impossible to get people to answer them. It may seem normal that people shy away from the harder questions but when I have to ask ten people before finding someone to let me use their answer, that’s a problem.

Older issues of the newspaper include heated discussions on politics and other pressing topics in the editorial section but the passion for engaging in this dialogue seems to be dwindling.

For the most part, the students we speak with have well-thought-out opinions on important issues. But an alarming number of folks don’t want them included in the paper with their name.

Not to sound like a baby boomer griping about millennials, but I really am concerned that people of our generation do not think through, stand behind, and express their opinions in meaningful ways.

I think we have come to rely on “news outlets” like The Huffington Post and Buzzfeed to gripe for us so that all we have to do is click share on Facebook. And when we are looking for the perfect article to share, we consider the reaction it will get from our acquaintances.

Aunt Martha most likely won’t approve of the article you shared about Hillary, but will a lot of your friends ‘like’ it?

Sure,these posts may lead to a discussion in the comment sections with friends, but the original start to the conversation was not thought of with the sharer’s own mind. And it was shared with the intent of creating an image, not to be seen by those who think much differently.

We simply don’t form our own opinions.

Maybe we are afraid of looking stupid and only feel safe on social media, or maybe we feel that we cannot change anything.

But I beg that if you have an opinion on a topic (and you should have opinions) then share it- especially when you are asked.

Certainly don’t blabber about topics you’re uninformed about, but stay informed and stand behind your opinion. Nothing will ever change if we value silence over discussion.