Growing up, my dad always told my sisters and I that empty barrels make the most noise. The lesson was that if you don't know what you're talking about, it's better to remain silent because you will learn that more often than not, the people who make the most noise and have the loudest opinions really don't know what they are talking about; they have so much to say, but they have no knowledge or research to back up what they are talking about. That was a lesson I always carried with me and lately, I have really begun to understand what my dad was talking about.
We live in a time when it takes nothing to share our opinions publicly. We have so many platforms at our fingertips that provide us with an outlet to share our opinions in a public forum. Even just the fact that I can sit here and type my opinion and have it published on a website for countless people to read shows that it doesn't take much to be given a platform. I didn't go to school for writing or journalism. I didn't major in English, yet every week I am given an opportunity to share my opinion, to broadcast my thoughts, which is incredible; however, there are so many people who truly abuse that power.
With all that is going on in the world right now: the election, police brutality, terrorism, the list could go -- everyone has an opinion. We all have opinions about what is going on; however, many people have opinions based strictly on emotion, without any intellectual backing. These people proudly post their opinions on Facebook and Twitter and get tons of likes and retweets, but when you really sit and dissect what they are saying; there is no intelligent backing to their opinions. They are empty barrels filled with nothing but loud emotions.
Many of us can probably remember back to middle school and high school English classes when our teachers told us that we were going to write an opinion essay. How many of you remember all the components of an opinion essay? In writing this article, I did a little research to refresh my memory. An opinion essay is composed of the following components: the statement of your opinion, the reason you believe your opinion is true, examples/reasons for your opinion and your conclusion, or your opinion restated.
A simple way to remember this is "OREO" (an organizational tool that I taught to my Kindergarten class). O- opinion stated clearly R-reason you feel your opinion is correct E-example that supports your reason with details O- opinion restated.
It's really that simple. The point is that even kids are taught that it's not enough just to have an opinion, they need to have reasons to support it. They need to be able to tell you why summer is their favorite season, or why they don't like to draw. It is not enough to form an opinion, you need to have a reason to support it. You cannot leave your barrel empty.
I cannot begin to tell you how many conversations I have had with people that when I ask them more about their opinion or how they came to that opinion, that their opinion begins to fall apart because it has no rationale to support it. They have such strong opinions, but as soon as you ask them, "why do you feel that way?" their opinions begin to crumble because they "don't know" or they "read it on Facebook." Empty barrels make the most noise.
Too many people allow the power of Facebook and other forms of social media to go to their heads. They get a false sense of power because 100 people like their Facebook post. They begin to believe that their opinion is true, despite how faulty their opinion truly is. They bask in the glory of having so many likes and retweets that they do not realize that their opinion is influencing other people's opinions too.
I am sure we are all guilty of it. We see something online and we automatically it has to be true. "If it's not true, then why is it online?" we ask ourselves. Here's a hint: everything you read online is not true. Yet, too many of us see something that someone posted or retweeted and we use it to form our opinions. Our opinions are based off false information and mixed emotions.
We are entering into a time where you cannot risk having weak opinions. You need to take the time to research your opinions and find reasons to support your feelings. It is not enough to say, "This is how I feel." Why do you feel that way? What have you experienced that has brought you to that opinion? What has affected you that has helped your formulate that opinion? What are your reasons? What are your examples? Where is your research?
Empty barrels make the most noise. They have the loudest opinions and they have no problem sharing their opinions with everyone they come into contact with. Do not allow yourself to be influenced by empty barrels. Don't just scroll through Facebook and Twitter to see what is going on in the world (a habit that I am too guilty of). Take the time to read legitimate news outlets. Take the time to watch the evening news, subscribe to a newspaper. See what is happening locally in your towns and communities. Figure out what you stand for. Determine why you support a specific cause. Take the time to educate yourself and form opinions based on logic, not emotion.
Empty barrels make the most noise. If you stand for nothing, what will you fall for?