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Tuesday, April 16
The Indiana Daily Student


OPINION: If I'm not educated enough, I won't give you my opinion


Silence is a scary thing to sit with. It makes many of us so uncomfortable, we feel the need to fill it up — sometimes with a joke or a “how’s your day been?” Although those are harmless ways to quiet silence, there are more dangerous ways. 

Silence when you don’t have anything else to say is one thing, but silence when someone asks for your opinion is even worse. So, we share our opinion. Even when we might not know much about the topic, we speak because anything is better than silence.  

A study from the University of Groningen in the Netherlands discovered that Americans become uncomfortable in conversational silence after only four seconds. It only takes four seconds for us to come up with something to say because silence is too uncomfortable.  

I thought there was no issue filling up silence with just about anything I could come up with –– until I realized I was giving opinions on topics I lacked education on. I had conversations with people and outwardly expressed my opinion when I had no idea what I was talking about. A conversation that sticks out to me is one I had with my mom about autism. I didn’t know autism was a spectrum, so in my uneducated opinion someone could either be autistic or not at all. As I spoke with my mom, she corrected my thinking.  

It’s dangerous to pretend to know what you’re talking about because our words have weight, and they might influence other people when we are not informed on the topic. I know opinions are not facts, but an opinion should be an educated one if it’s being shared with others.  

Not too long ago I was asked what I thought about the Israel-Hamas war. I followed the question with “I’m not educated enough on the topic to give you my opinion.”  Saying that saved the people around me from hearing me say something ignorant, which is much more embarrassing than saying the truth: I don’t know.  

It’s not easy to accept we’re not informed on everything, much less educated on everything, but it is necessary, especially with the amount of misinformation we see today.  

When I expressed uninformed opinions on political and societal issues, not only was I influencing people in the wrong way, but I was also taking away the podium from those who are informed. I was being selfish because of my egotistical habit of pretending I know everything, instead of being humble and giving space to those who know.  

I’m from Nicaragua, and its common that people from other countries say that the U.S. is the best country in the world; it's almost seen as a utopia. The issue isn’t teaching the good things, it’s avoiding the bad ones. My teachers were misinformed, they weren’t educated on the American faults like racism and extremely expensive health insurance. Their uneducated opinions led to my erroneous assumption that there was nothing wrong with this country.  

Having an opinion is a right, but having the privilege of expressing it should be earned. If we don’t know much about a topic, let’s allow those who do to speak. If we want the privilege to express our opinions, let’s educate ourselves first.  

We create our opinions based on things we hear, read and see, so  I ask  for readers to question. I have read way too many article titles that insinuate one thing, but as I read the actual content, I realized the title was just an attention grabber. I have especially encountered these on websites like Daily Mail, but they’re not exclusive to them. Univison, a major Mexican media channel, interviewed Trump in November of 2023. The interview was at its best, a soft ball interview, and at its worst propaganda for the former president. Univision’s main audience is Latinos, a minority Trump is openly hostile towards. Many employees at the television network questioned the interview, but it is impossible to know if spectators did.  In 2024, 39% of Latino voters are Trump supporters. Interviews and stories like Univison’s could be responsible for some of these numbers.  

An interview or an article like Univision’s leads people to make erroneous assumptions about political and societal issues. It is our responsibility to question these media sources and create educated opinions.  

Similarly, when we assume someone is right because they speak with confidence, we must still question their meaning by asking politely, or investigating later. It is imperative to not let people persuade you when they might not know what they’re talking about.   

We must become comfortable with silence. Comfortable with the idea that we don’t know everything there is to know about every political or societal issue. We must learn how to say “I’m not educated enough on the topic, so I can’t give you my opinion.”  

Maria Amanda Irias (she/her) is a junior studying journalism and psychology.  

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