Make a critical writing checklist for controversial topics!
I haven’t strayed into controversial waters that much. Most controversial stuff I say are opinions and hot takes that are more geared towards pop culture. For example I am not a huge fan of Frozen II or the Disney Star Wars films. But those topics are so massive that my “ehh, not a fan” gets drowned out by the millions of people dog piling on it. I guess my checklist would be that if you’re going to enter the “arena of public opinion” maybe check yourself first.
Step 1: Request Information
I mean you’re going to have to know what you’re talking about, before you talk about it. It’s easy to jump on headlines, and opinions can be formed very quickly. Yet, consider that you could be coming from a place of ignorance or maybe don’t have the complete story yet. Make sure you are well-versed on the topic or if you can have read a couple of other perspectives and fully understand the heart of the issue before doing something rash.
Always request information from credible or trustworthy sources. Even if you are addressing something opinion based, consider examples or legitimate facts that support your way of thinking. If it’s new than don’t just blindly trust Twitter trending or an article found on Facebook. At the very least make sure you have the basic who, what, where, when.
Step 2: Wait
Probably over a decade ago, and I still remember the sage advice that NFL/NCAA Coach Herm Edwards gave to an incoming class of rookies. Herm, joked that phones need to come with a “DON’T PRESS SEND” button because yeah sometimes you should take a second to think before pulling the trigger. Social media is almost turning into Pandora’s mystery box, in which you never know what the reaction is going to be…but unleashing despair and misery into the world is more likely than you think.
Always maybe consider the consequences before unleashing into fits of passion. I’m not exactly advocating for self-censorship but sometimes you should at least consider how people might or could respond to something. Is this hill worth dying on, to suffer the slings of lost followers, angry commenters, and possibly even worse. End of the day, do what you got to do but you’re less likely to regret things if you “Don’t Press Send” and at least sleep on the idea before going in guns blazing.
Also, sometimes you find it’s good for revision and clarity. At lot of the nastier side of arguments come from either the misinterpretation of stances or the refusal to budge on them. I can’t help ya if someone decides to double down. If you are approaching someone fairly open-minded clarity of position goes a long way.
Step 3: Pick Up
As in, are you picking up what I am laying down? After you’ve posted your salacious or spicy opinion maybe reflect on the situation. How are people reacting, and how do you feel about your involvement? Did people pick up what you laid down? Are the understanding your arguments and are they coming away with the right interpretations? Did you pick up what they was laying down? Are people correcting you, or maybe reiterating the initial argument or stances to show that maybe there was something you didn’t think about despite all your requested information on the matter.
If you did debate in school, the best part was that most of the time you did not get to pick or have prior knowledge of what side you were arguing until you showed up. This is to encourage a useful skill of devil’s advocacy. When you understand the argument from both sides, you often can better combat their arguments and potentially poke holes in their arguments. I think being able to understand the complexities and nuances to an argument and where both sides come from helps alleviate tension and backlash.
There are so many things that are too divisive or just simple a matter of opinion that you’re bound to be wrong to some degree eventually. Be constructive and always make sure you’re picking up what people are laying down so you don’t caught like a fool with his their pants on the ground. At the end of the day, arguments are just a big pile of trash and if we aren’t picking up our fair share than you’re going left with a giant mess on the ground.
The geek problem: how do you reach depth without alienating your audience?
How does he do it? How do I get away with being a rather “disrespectful” fella. Well I think Singing in the Rain put it rather simple:
Now I would never claim to be very funny, that would require writing jokes and I struggle with ENG/LIT.…and coming up with more running gags. But I think voice has been one of my commendable attributes in writing, and it gives me the huge advantage of tone-setting. It comes at a price, I’m sure my criticisms have appeared delegitimate due to the overtly casual and light-hearted approach. I like to think I strike a balance of providing engaging criticism and analysis but in the form of an amusing read.
The benefit, is that feinting stupidity is a survival technique to avoid conflict. Usually one glimpse at most K at the Movies thumbnails is enough to disarm someone. It’s the same reason while social commentary is really effective in a stand-up routine or kind of the same premise of the people who argue “it’s bad but it’s for kids”. Nobody looked at the header image, and was like “ah yes, here is a person who takes things too seriously and must be taken down a peg”.
I think tone and presentation is important because it makes it clear that if I’m being hyperbolic that it’s clearly not meant to be taken as an insult. I literally insulted my readers in my last review calling anyone who watches anime subbed “bottoms”. I like to think that it was fairly obvious in context that it was more mocking the Dub v. Sub feud than actually insult anyone.
Obviously, I am an extreme brand of stupidity that can’t easily be replicated. In fact, I think that’s kind of my selling point. You can find plenty of other movie reviewers, there’s dozen of anime reviewers leagues above my cute little reviews. But find me one that works as a substitute for that raw dumb energy that I bring. Who else is going to review Pandamonium or make Bunny Girl Senpai have a Willy Wonka themed main image? I’ll wait.
In fact I will wait, until I post again in the future. You’ll have to tell me in the comments of who’s my rival in shenanigans is. Or you can you know, help build my confidence and tell me that this was a really insightful and interesting entry into the Controversed discussion. Maybe share it on Twitter, or Facebook, or the family dinner table… I don’t mind. Thanks for stopping by it is always appreciated. I’ll see you next time, at the movies!
Images credit: Library Takeout from Duke University Libraries