Views of the rich and famous: Are they facts or opinions?

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Views of the rich and famous: Are they facts or opinions?

Rebecca Barkdoll, Opinion Editor

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How often do we find ourselves fascinated with celebrity commentary? We follow tweets and watch talk shows and listen to podcast interviews where movie stars, singers and the like share their opinions of the world.

We find it worth investing our time in. We hear a political opinion from someone famous who has no experience or knowledge in politics and we trust their thoughts. Why is that?

Maybe it’s because we find their perspective refreshing. During the 2016 presidential election, I definitely remember hearing a lot of people say that they found Trump’s speeches refreshingly honest in comparison to career politicians. Whether they were right about his honesty or not, they perceived his views as outside the box, new, a completely different take.

Maybe we just like the gossip. Maybe we just like knowing something about someone, even someone who we’ve only ever seen on TV, who we’ve heard online or in concert or who we’ve followed on social media. In that case, our fascination with their beliefs probably boils down to: “Can you believe what I just heard about so-and-so?”

Maybe we envy their success. Maybe we think that their worldviews helped get them where they are now. Maybe we hope that if we believe the same way, we might get a little of that success too. I don’t know.

Yes, this is all pure speculation, but we need to question why. We need to question how quickly, thoroughly, and avidly we hold onto perspectives that are spouted by the people who write our favorite songs or take part in our favorite TV shows. Just because we like them or feel we have something in common with them doesn’t mean we should take their perspectives as gospel truth.

That being said, celebrities have an enormous opportunity. They have a public platform to make a difference to a large group of people. They can be a voice for causes that desperately need a voice, and they can make a platform for those whose experiences need to be heard. If people are going to listen to what they say anyway, why not use that?

But for us, the average person? We have to be careful. It would be so easy to see a post on social media by our favorite comedian and share it without thinking about why they created it and what they might gain by it. Do they know what they’re talking about or are they just spouting words that sound good? Are they causing harm by what they say? If so, are they doing it on purpose or on accident?

The point is, we can’t just blindly believe what the big names say. Listen and examine. They might have something great to say, but no one, not even the most popular or famous, can be right all the time. So we can’t assume that every opinion they hold will be correct. Nor can we assume that we will always be able to judge their motives correctly. But if we do our best to ask why, we can keep from being sway by fad opinions.