Chapter Fourteen: The Business of Reactionary Commentary
Events occur every day that grab the world's attention and refuse to let go, at least until the next phenomenon comes along. Whether it's a political movement, a celebrity scandal, an offhand comment, a fashion faux pas, nothing is too big or too small to spark a litany of unsolicited opinions and reactionary commentary. The kneejerk instinct to immediately form and share a response to these events has only been exacerbated by the technology we have at our fingertips. We have something to say, gosh darn it, and the world needs to know!
As with each piece of commentary, there are equal and opposite reactions to those reactions, thus creating an endless cycle of both thoughtful dialogue and faux outrage. This seemingly endless thread of reactionary commentary sometimes does contribute to wider and more important topics in our culture, but also tends to keep the conversation going on far longer than the original incident might have warranted, blowing everything out of perspective.
Reactionary commentary can be a useful tool, an avenue for sharing expertise as a writer, an educator, a medical specialist, a lawyer, a philosopher, or whatever pertinent specialty the event may call for, and sometimes even being compensated for that commentary. Thoughtful and timely perspectives can add value to the conversation at large and cement the commentator’s qualifications and relevance on the topic.
This can also be a prime time to show off one’s creativity. How we choose to respond to these local, national, or global events speaks to the kind of commentator we choose to be. Some may offer thoughtful debate while others can produce clever memes at lightning speed. Our responses put our personalities and our values on display in a way that other original content simply does not.
Having an opinion about absolutely everything can be exhausting, as is being bombarded by opinions about absolutely everything from others. A person runs the risk of fatiguing their audience when there is no screening process for what deserves thoughtful commentary and what can just fall by the wayside without additional comment. Everything becomes a judgment while maintaining no real substance.
Another pitfall of reactionary commentary is the tendency to turn everything and everyone into a joke, a target for ridicule because we would certainly never find ourselves in a situation like that person did. We would know better and therefore, let's all point and laugh. When we forget that these pop culture events affect the lives of real people, we chip away at our own humanity, all for a few extra likes and shares.
Reactionary commentary is not going away, nor should it. It can capture the public's imagination, make us think differently, and shows where our priorities lie. Timely and relevant commentary can serve as a record of the times, a mark of progress that we can reflect on as our worldview expands, even after the incidents that inspired them fade from memory.
Noteworthy Communications is not in the business of reactionary commentary, and we have no immediate plans to change that. However, observing how others use their voices is never a wasted exercise, and just because we don't share blatant opinions left, right, and center, does not mean we don't have them. Our opinions of course influence the content we produce and even the clients we choose to work with. Thoughtful commentary comes in many shapes and forms, and we strive every day to raise the conversation for those who have something to say.