Study Finds “I feel” Overused

By Caleb Nelson, guest contributor

The subjective part of the world, wonderfully unchallengeable and delightfully, well, me-oriented, is the perfect place to hold a controversial opinion: thinking is often wrong; feeling never is. Thus, a few minutes sojourn in classrooms, even at colleges supposedly accommodating the nation’s best and brightest, will show the phrase “I feel” to be ridiculously overused in almost every class. I can tell you that a feeling is unjustifiable, that it is loony, that it makes less sense than Joe Biden, even that it ought to be a disreputable outcast but I can’t tell you that you don’t feel it.

Cowardice begets these feelings; laziness sustains them. Having no real belief in my own opinion, I call it a feeling so that it can’t be called baloney. By this means, I retire from intellectual life as easily as John Elway retired from football, letting my thoughts wander, never taking the trouble to justify my words and actions, taking refuge in the fortress of my own subjectivity, letting the world pass me by while I sip lemonade and laugh at the folly of those who are able to give a reason. After all, am I not wiser than seven of them?

I have just described the fool, a man who subscribes so enthusiastically to popular notions that he can see nothing but how uncomfortable it is to say something falsifiable. The humble man is not so; aware of his own inadequacies and errors, he eagerly submits to rebuke. He wants to be corrected, for he wants to learn and grow. “Teach a wise man,” says the ancient book of Proverbs, “and he will be yet wiser.” Teach a wise man? Too bad so few of this country’s professors ever get the chance.