How to Write Essays: Beware of Generalizations
Generalizations and stereotypes are looked down on in the world of writing. The problems with generalization is that they are very subjective, and is only relevant to the writer’s point of view. When writing, especially for journalistic or academic purposes, it is important to leave out your own point of view, and make the piece as unbiased as possible.
Of course, bias exists in everyone’s psyche- it is impossible to live in the world without bias. However, a good writer will put stereotypes and generalizations aside in the name of a good writing piece.
What is problematic with generalizations exactly? Here are some reasons of why generalizations are best to be avoided when writing your essays.
- They’re wrong- sometimes generalizations are just wrong, simply put. What one might think is the standard for all, it is also important to realize that there are exceptions to nearly everything. By generalizing, you are not acknowledging these exceptions, which is problematic.
- They’re offensive- alright, not always. Sometimes generalizations are a good thing- such as the generalization that all rocket scientists are smart. However, depending on what you are generalizing, there is a chance that a reader may come across an offensive statement and take issue with it. There are certain types of essays that are best to be kept neutral, and the best way to keep neutral is to keep your bias out of it.
- They’re weak- sometimes when writing an essay, it is tempting to make a sweeping generalization to prove your point. That is an easy way out, however. Generalizations are weak arguments. It is best to prove your point with more tangible research, such as scientific studies or other legitimate resources. Generalizations are watered-down information, and does not represent the following information in an accurate light. The importance of writing is to present a straight forward and accurate presentation of the material at hand.
Of course, while talking about generalizations- it is not easy to generalize that generalizations are always a bad thing. In opinion pieces, it is more acceptable to present your opinion, and yes- generalizations of the topic at hand. This is because sometimes it is normal to make generalizations in order to make sense of the world- that is your unique perception. Opinion essays are a slightly different breed than academic or scientific journals, so it is important that you realize the differences.
Next time you are writing, ask yourself- is this just my opinion or is this generalization relevant to the essay? If not, reconsider, and start on a different path.