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Posted on Wednesday, January 10, 2024 at 8:05 am

My Take

By Mark McGee

“Opinion is the medium between knowledge and ignorance.”

Plato, the great philosopher of ancient Greece spoke these words sometime between 450 and 347 B.C. What he meant was opinion fall somewhere between knowledge and ignorance and some opinions may be valid than others.

I am always amazed at how two people can experience the same event and have vastly different opinions of their experiences.

Occasionally, when traveling to a new area of the country I will check on a hotels and restaurants in the area. I am always amused and intrigued by the comments and the divergent comments. Below are two examples.

“It’s the best place I ever stayed. The staff was outstanding. The rooms were spotless. I definitely will stay here again.” – From a very satisfied customer.

“It is the worst place I have ever spent the night. The rooms were filthy. The staff was nowhere to be found. Anyone who would want to stay here would have to be crazy.” – From a very upset person.

These differences of opinion are usually made by people who spent time at the hotel or motel with a couple of weeks of each other.

There are many other examples, but this sampling is typical.

I was reminded of this spectrum of opinion last week when I received the student evaluations of the college courses I teach. The opinions they express are anonymous so the field is wide open for critical discourse. As an adjunct professor every course I teach is evaluated every semester by students.

To some I am the worst teacher they have ever had and the class was a waste of time. To others it was a great class. They learned and improved. They enjoyed me as a teacher.

Students sitting in the same class, but widely different viewpoints. Yes, Plato how right you were.

Negative comments sting, as they do for most of us. Sometimes valid points are made. Sometimes the observations are wrong.

For me, positive comments, no matter how many, don’t fill me with deep satisfaction because the negatives ones echo more in my mind no matter how valid they might be.

In journalism, my chosen profession, receiving positive comments is rare. They are always appreciated and savored. But just as happiness is stimulating the proper portions of the brain, a negative comment offered by a reader shoots down the joy.

We live in a world where criticism, especially the negative variety, grows like kudzu in Georgia through the various social media platforms on the Internet.

Let us all know the facts before we jump to a critical opinion. And don’t hesitate to pat somebody on the back and tell them “good job” as we go through this New Year.