The (Unfortunate) Permanence of the Published Opinion

Zoe Kovacs | rising editor-in-chief

I change my mind often. I say things, and later realize that I disagree with myself. Sometimes, it takes more than a second for this to happen — an hour, a day, a month. Despite having been through many iterations of any given opinion, in conversation I can usually pass it off as if I’ve always had the sparkly, “right” opinion.

Writing makes that a bit more difficult. Whatever I thought, declared correct, and wrote about is out there, published and permanent. It’s undoubtedly been read by a least a few people, who have perhaps been able to identify the error(s) of my thinking immediately. And although in theory writing is a conversation, I don’t get to hear the reader disagree and respond. Whatever is there is there, and I remain two-dimensional on the page, indefinitely indignant in my misinformed thinking, while the real me may very well think something very different.

Last December, I wrote a rather damning article about Hillary Clinton and her falsely — or so I claimed — paraded “feminism.” While I wouldn’t say I disagree with all of what I wrote, there are certainly points that make me cringe when I read them — the part where I acted like it would be possible for the First Lady of the United States to condemn her husband’s infidelity, as if the First Lady could ever publicly disagree with the President for anything without an onslaught of unfounded criticism. Now, in retrospect, it seems ludicrous that I ever critiqued Clinton’s actions in that way, but it took a good chunk of time (and only a short discussion with my mom) to realize my thinking was flawed.

The thing about people is, we evolve. We change. Our thinking changes, and our outward actions change with them. Which is all good, and our thinking should change. The hard part, I think, is that when that happens, it sometimes means admitting that we were wrong.

So here it goes: In December, in what I now view as a definitely overconfident, perhaps somewhat misinformed condemnation of Hillary Clinton, I was wrong. I realize that now, and even though I wouldn’t say I’m necessarily a huge Hillary fan now, some of the points I criticized her for were certainly unfair. I’m thinking particularly of my holding her responsible for many of her husband’s decisions while president, which, while I’m sure she had a hand in many of them, I cannot expect her to have magically changed them or publically disagreed with them.

This is likely not the last time I will publish something that I will later disagree with. It’s a risk I take as a writer, particularly when I write about something as rapidly evolving as feminist thinking. Tomorrow I may encounter a perspective I had never considered before, or maybe I’ll have an experience that allows me to see things in a new light. In a world where we are constantly absorbing new information, how can we not change our minds?

Zoe is a junior studying English and Classics. She will fulfill the position of Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Wave beginning in January 2017.