The Weaponization of the Hot Take

It’s going to come as no shock to you, but there are hot takes everywhere.

The guy who sits behind you “crushing those TPS reports” is likely an spewing hot takes. Harold Reynolds and Joe Buck are spouting lava-hot takes. Donald Trump is a hairdo of hot takes. So are billions of other people on the planet.

I’m older so I’ve developed kind of a callousness to hot takes. Rex Hudler doesn’t really bother me anymore. I can watch a political debate without throwing my TV dinner at the set. I can usually sit in on conversations in the elevator about how to “fix this Benghazi thing” without too much eyerolling. But I’m not surprised at the young people in Columbia, Missouri right now who have been thrown atop the roller coaster that is atop the volcano of hot takes.

It’s tearing my old university apart.

By now, you have a decent handle on the main issues going on with #ConcernedStudent1950, the football team walkout, the hunger strike, the yelling professor to the photographer and many more issues literally added by the hour. Everyone seems to be standing on a single principle that, in a vacuum, is right and correct and valid. The hunger striker was pissed about a number of issues on campus including the lack of leadership in the University system.

The #ConcernedStudent1950 group is raising awareness of some very real acts of racism and discrimination on campus. The yelling professor was trying to keep a safe space for the protesters. The photographer wanted to just do his job. Now we’ve got online threats, professors resigning, students outraged they haven’t cancelled class.

Poll 100 people in Columbia and you’re going to get 100 facets of the issue. Everyone’s got an argument to stand on. But here’s the point, we still all have to move forward and get along – or at least tolerate each other.

College is the first place most of us engage people with different opinions. You get a sprinkling of everything at college – especially a big college like Mizzou. In one classroom, you might have a racist, an African-American, a homosexual, a blonde and a fat kid. All in the same row. And here’s the deal, the same is going to be true just about every day for the rest of your life.

Your job, and your challenge, is to go about navigating whatever is thrown at you when those cultures mix and even clash. There’s garbage everywhere – just open up Facebook. You can mute some of it. You can ignore some of it and you can avoid some of it.

Your challenge is how to carry on despite it – and that’s what’s gone wrong at Mizzou. Everyone is leaning on reacting to others instead of targeting what they can do themselves to make it better. And that’s what is key to this – these hot take spewers (generic term, probably not you, but maybe you, Harold Reynolds or anyone with a strong, hot take) have gotten so good at amplifying their message that it’s weaponizing the hot take.

My point of all this isn’t to minimize your issue. You’re largely 100% correct in that ___<insert your issue or problem here>___ is rampant in society and somebody should do something about it.

My point is to remind you that you can only control what you can control. You can surely control your reaction to a take so hot that it melts plastic. You can control your level of outrage. You can control how fast you can send out a responding hot take to the original hot take. Spending time on being outraged is time you’re not spending on solving the root problem.

Every day there’s a new thing to be outraged about. Red meat causes cancer. Escobar is hitting leadoff. A Carrot Top looking lady lost her shit on a photographer. The dude crushing his TPS reports behind you seems to have developed a belching problem.

College was a great place for me to learn that the world is larger than my universe. The world is filled with right-minded people, wrong-minded people and all of them have takes that are hot as the sun. Their goal is to invoke a response. Your goal is to stay focused on your goals and if you have time, lend them a hand. Society has gotten really good at dividing and being outraged. Your goal should be to move forward despite those divides (and hopefully they see that and join along.)

I am truly sorry the crap seems to be hitting the fan at my Alma Mater. It’s a tremendous community, a tremendous campus, and a tremendous place to learn. So learn from this. Learn how to get past it and get along despite the differences. We just saw 800,000 people cram into a place with four porta-johns. Surely we can figure the rest of it out, right?

Let’s dial down the outrage and start working on how to fix the problems – starting with this kid’s belching behind me.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *