Dirty Harry’s Opinion on Opinions

Dirty Harry's Opinion on Opinions

One of the most rewarding aspects of collecting, is sharing your passion for what you collect with others. Sharing comes in many forms, whether it be on social media, online forums, collectible shows, trade publications, clubs, or simply sharing what you love with friends and family. Most people show genuine interest in what you have to share and are happy to indulge you. On the other hand, we’ve all encountered people that are quick to offer less than flattering opinions about you and/or what you’ve chosen to collect.

Like every red-blooded American would do, to shape my opinion on opinions I looked to “Dirty Harry” Callahan for advice on how to handle the detractors, haters, and trolls.

Dirty Harry’s opinion on opinions makes a powerful point: In a world where everyone has an opinion, who should we listen to? I dare suggest that we should all be a little more like “Dirty Harry” when it comes to other people’s opinions.  

Now… here I am, giving you my opinion on opinions. I understand the irony.

I also understand that you and I are under a constant and unrelenting attack of opinions put forth by opinion makers.  

Marketers bombard us with products and services that we must have in order to live a happy and productive life. Our social media feed barrages us with advice on how to feel. News pundits tell us how we should think. Employers and colleagues tell us how to perform and how to advance.

Spouses, family, and friends? Yep, they have plenty of opinions too!

Of course not all opinions are bad. And yes, we should be open to listening to what others have to say. But the older you get, the more things you collect, and the more involved you become in your hobby, so will your need to develop an opinion filter.

In order to remain a happy and content collector; and above all, sane—here are a few things to consider regarding opinions:

Consider the messenger.

This much I know, “if you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one.

As collectors, we typically collect within a defined niche or collecting genre. While we’re passionate about a particular subject matter, we must recognize that not everyone is going to share our same passions or interests.    

For me, as a Civil War artifact collector, I receive plenty of unsolicited opinions about my chosen hobby from my colleagues. I have several artifacts displayed in my office for my own personal enjoyment, and from time-to-time, visitors show an interest as well. And of course, I’m thrilled to explain to them what they’re looking at.

While I thoroughly enjoy everyone I work with, a few of my colleagues can’t resist rolling their eyes when I adorn my office with a new “old” artifact, or telling me that I should choose a hobby that people under the age of 65 would find interesting.

If you try to appeal to everyone, you’ll appeal to no one.

Most of their comments are actually quite humorous, but if I were to take them too seriously, they could dampen the enjoyment I get from my “vintage” office décor.

Always consider the messenger of the opinion – if they do not represent the audience your collecting interests cater to, does their opinion really matter?

Recognize a troll for what they are… a troll.

Scroll through any business review, social media page, or the comment section of online article, and chances are you’ll find a troll, or two, or two hundred. Typically it’s someone with an axe to grind. Their comments are at best snarky, or at their worst, viciously personal. As hard is it may be to do, take the high road and ignore them.

An acquaintance of mine recently published a book entitled, “Discovering Virginia’s Colonial Artifacts.” A staggering 400 pages in length, and packed with nearly 1,000 high-resolution color photographs, this behemoth of a book offers a treasure trove of information on 16th thru 18th century artifacts, and even showcases some post-colonial relics for good measure. Point is, it’s a really good book.

Within a few weeks of its release on Amazon.com, a reviewer completely trashed the book, its readership, and its author. After some digital detective work, it was determined that the reviewer was a “professional” archeologist that took issue with an “amateur” publishing such an authoritative book on artifacts not recovered or researched by the archeological community. How dare he do such a thing!

After contacting Amazon with the issue, they were understanding and gracious enough to remove the review from their website, helping boost the review score for the book in its early stages of online selling.

Is it possible that genuine feedback can be hidden within a troll’s snarky or mean remarks? I suppose so – but if it’s worth paying attention to, it will surface through other channels, in the form of more respectful feedback. 

Understand who you’re dealing with.

In a previous article entitled, 7 Things to Know about Professional Appraisals, I wrote about the importance of working with a professional appraiser that is not interested in buying your item or collection.

“This seems like a no-brainer, but it happens more often than not. For example, having a private dealer appraise an item that they may have an interest in purchasing, may lead to an undervalued appraisal. There are many trustworthy dealers in every genre of collecting; but as a rule of thumb, start with a professional appraiser first, then visit the private dealer!”

I’ve seen this happen over and over again at collectible shows. An unsuspecting person walks the aisles of a show, asking dealers how much their item is worth or how much they would pay for it. Often times, the person inherited the item and has no knowledge of what they possess, and is not interest in holding on to it.

The German scientist and satirist, Georg Christoph Lichtenberg said:

Don’t judge a man by his opinions, but what his opinions have made of him.”

Following that logic, a profitable dealer’s opinions make him money! And if they’re making money, they’re not coughing up full appraisal amounts to pay for the things they sell… for a profit.

Instead of starting at a trade show full of dealers looking to turn a profit, the better route would be seeking the opinion of a professional appraiser first, then visit the show with a figure in mind.

So, the next time someone wants to offer you an opinion on your collecting genre of choice, or any opinion for that matter,  just remember Dirty Harry’s opinion on opinions!


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