I literally hadn’t heard of Soleimani before this week. That probably makes me a bad politico, but an average American. I’m smart enough to be a lot of things — but a foreign policy expert isn’t one of them. I think foreign policy can be fascinating, but most of the time it puts me to sleep. I just lack the big brain energy for it. If there’s anything we should all be able to thank Trump for no matter where we stand on him as a person or a President, it’s making politics as a whole a thousand times more entertaining. Did you ever think you would laugh listening to the leader of the free world talk about wind mills before 2016? Me neither. But I digress.
Foreign policy wonks are entitled to their opinions about Iran. But people a lot less informed than I am about what’s going on have a lot louder opinions, and I need it stop. Because it’s not just Iran, or Soleimani or “World War III.”
It seems like every other day there’s something in the news cycle that everyone feels obligated to give a hot take on before they’ve taken the time to read anything about it outside of Instagram or Twitter. And don’t get me wrong — I fully appreciate social media for how useful it can be for digesting and dissecting current events, and keeping up with what’s going on in the world. But full perspective can’t fit into an Instagram story or 280 characters.
With the speed of the news cycle, I feel like people — especially politicos — have developed this need to give their 2 cents on anything and everything to prove something. Maybe they’re trying to position themselves as reliable sources, or just become more prominent, or flex the hardest among their acquaintances. I can’t tell you what’s motivating people to talk so much about issues they know nothing about — but I can tell you that you add nothing of value to political discourse by rushing to give an opinion about something just because it’s trending.
The longer I’ve worked in politics, the more intentional and careful I’ve been about what takes I choose to share. Not just for the sake of political dialogue, but for my own development and sanity.
Nothing good comes from talking to hear yourself talk, and nothing good comes from being bound to the news cycle. Yes, you should be informed. But there’s too much going on to be invested in everything and keep your head on straight. And scrambling for the most retweets and “100” reactions to your Instagram story before you have any actual grasp of what’s happening is a recipe for trash tier content.
I’m not inclined to think that America should be sorry for killing a terrorist. But I am not about to start philosophizing and posturing about a guy whose name I didn’t know a week ago, and a complex situation I’ve done rudimentary research on.
It’s okay to wait for more information. It’s okay to sit a story out. It’s okay to admit you don’t know something. I’d go as far to say it’s not just okay to shut up — it’s noble.
None of us are experts on everything, and none of us have all the answers. And the sooner we all embrace that fact, the better off we’ll all be.