Opinions are like belly buttons. Everybody has one.
Except Adam and Eve, reportedly.
Even a casual glance at Facebook, Twitter, or similar social media platforms confirms a disturbing fact: opinions are actually far more numerous than belly buttons. Anyone can have an unlimited number of the former, but usually just one of the latter.
Many people (in my opinion, far too many) can cough up a multitude of opinions in a single day, a single hour, even a single sentence.
There’s no social requirement for said opinions to be based in logic of any discernible kind. Neither need they be consistent with one another from moment to moment, or even from one neuronal firing to another. Unlike snowflakes and belly buttons, no two of which are identical, opinions come in just two varieties: your own (which are sound and justified) and others’ (which are patent nonsense).
For more than 50 years, I’ve derived much of my income from being willing to express my opinions, either in print or on-air.
Having cranked out literally thousands of editorials, reviews, speeches, personal essays and other opinion pieces, I believe I’m uniquely qualified to explain the various categories of professional opinionators currently at work.
Please note, I deliberately said “I believe”, rather than stating as unassailable fact that I am appropriately qualified. In this game, even if you secretly suspect something cannot be empirically verified, confidence is everything.
So, herewith my personal take on those who peddle their (our) opinions in order to pay the rent.
Pundits. May or may not have a clue what a current situation means, or where it might be headed, but can explain it in witty, entertaining, and quotable bites. Being a certified pundit is a guaranteed money maker.
Analysts. Most boring of the lot. Tend to lard their material with a lot of tedious facts, on the premise that if you can’t convince someone, you can at least overcome their resistance by putting them to sleep.
Commentators. Semi-recognizable experts in a given field who can be summoned on short notice and need little coaxing to share their in-depth views on a breaking story in four eloquent minutes or less.
Talking heads. Those well-coiffed “news show” hosts, who require virtually no information about a subject other than the ideological bent of whatever outlet is writing the cheque.
Thumb-suckers and naval-gazers. Well-intentioned intellectual wanderers, endlessly searching for meaning in the cornfields of fact-land. Usually harmless.
Cassandras and Jeremiahs. The finger-wagging and weepy-eyed prophets of doom whose sole pleasure comes from waiting to say, “I told you so.”
Conspiracy-mongers.They’re right. Everyone else is plotting to destroy us all.
But don’t take my word for it. That’s just my opinion.