The other day I found an advert in the back of a magazine for cosmetic surgery which made me rather angry. In my rage, I did what any normal person would do and I tweeted about it. However, instead of typing “Have you fucking *seen* this shit?” which was pretty much what I was thinking, I decided to opt for the rather toned down “N.B. Other methods of obtaining confidence are also available” instead. Within minutes, I realised why I’d done it and also why I keep being told to have more of an opinion in my writing: I’m afraid of accidentally contradicting myself. If, in my moment of rage, I had tweeted that the cosmetic surgery advert was utterly hideous, 140 characters wouldn’t have been enough to adequately explain why. Out of a small fear of later having to explain that I don’t think elective surgery is bad, wrong or always unnecessary (I simply detest the terrible way it is often advertised), I ended up suppressing my rage and tweeting something far less interesting.
All of the journalists I admire are the ones who will declare that anyone who says their wedding is going to be/was the best day of their life just hasn’t taken enough MDMA in a field at 3am. The ones who describe the warnings on cigarette packets as being “like a Victorian letter of condolence, sent slightly too early“. And the ones who manage to get the phrase “spunking knob” into a serious article about the sexualisation of children. These are not people who sit back and think “will this offend someone?” – they are people who assume that someone’s bound to be offended anyway so why not dive into it with a little bit of flair? If I want to write something interesting, I need to think everything through and avoid potential hypocrisy without accidentally removing all of the bile and actual opinions from the piece. If I feel confident enough to rant about Ugg boots then surely I can be confident enough to write about other things which also make me want to punch strangers in the face?