A platitude, by definition, is a trite remark or statement that is said as a profound realization expected to stand on its own. Platitudes have taken a prominent role within our conversations and opinions today.
With snippets of news stories in constant circulation around the Internet and social media (i.e Instagram, Snapchat) it’s easy to construct your opinions in platitude-like formation. It can be inferred that the news stories we read or follow on social media are one-sided pieces of information aligned to your personal views and the peoples around you. For myself, a Coastal Californian, ‘DEMOCRATIC FURY’ is a more enticing Instagram page to follow than ‘CONSERVATIVE CONCEPTS.’ These articles and headlines are how we get our news and therefore, our first reactions to worldly events, politics, etc.
It is currently acceptable to form opinions based on how a piece of information makes one feel rather than how something has actually taken shape. Without further inquiry, people seem convinced that their reactions are equivalent to well-constructed arguments, when in reality what they are creating are mere platitudes.
On Instagram there is a headline in bold that reads: “TRUMP RELEASES OUTRAGEOUS STATEMENT TO BAN TRANSGENDERS FROM THE MILITARY!”
Being someone who lives in San Francisco, a greatly known LGBTQ+ community, my initial reaction is to be angry and disgusted at Donald Trump.
I dub him as “a homophobic piece of garbage.”
I enter into conversations with the platitude: “No decent human being would ever support a president that literally hates the LGBTQ+ community!”
And then everyone nods and murmurs in approval.
Well no shit Sherlock, this is 2018!
Others in San Francisco will most likely not challenge me on this short and easy to understand platitude, though I really have no evidence that Trump is what I say other than what the headline stated. I am simply reiterating it as a newfound saying.
It is not only the snippet news stories that are contributing to platitudes, but also our early political socializations that are formed by our parents and communities and their own opinions and experiences.
If your parents say they hate Donald Trump and the Republican party and you see the news story about Trump banning transgenders, then telling your parents he is a ‘homophobic piece of garbage’ won’t be challenged. You are probably validated for an unexplored reaction, confined to the one side and not prompted to seek other opinions and news stories on the matter that go beyond what he “said.”
So how has this become normal within our society?
Many people are under the illusion that they are open-minded if they are seeking reactions that support their latent opinions. Many forget that in order to be open-minded you must be open to the possibility that you’re close-minded.
This is why it is so important to avoid speaking in platitudes.
The ability to craft these statements based on so little is scary, but having others accept these statements without challenge is terrifying.
Where is the evidence? Where is the research for your reactions that you deliver as fact? Well-crafted arguments are supposed to win debates and create intriguing conversation, so then, you must be able to reincarnate your reactions into well-informed opinions. Go deeper than the biased headlines and distractions and read the other sides. Don’t get sucked into what others want you to think or feel. This is not to say you must totally reject your political socialization, but rather not so easily latch onto the public opinion. Seek your own.
Many stories and headlines today are great distractions. While we are forming opinions on Prince Harry’s proposal to his actress girlfriend, the slave trade has resurfaced in Libya. Go beyond what is intended for you to form platitudes on. It is when you delve further past the alluring headlines and start caring enough to educate yourself full-heartedly, that the platitudes will disappear.