Is There Such a Thing As a Stupid Question?


Tommy Beason ’24 and his sister Kendall sitting by the Old Well at UNC Chapel Hill, awaiting a football game in 2008. (Sallie Beason)

Written By Tommy Beason

     Some people may claim there is no such thing as a stupid question. You know what I would say: that is just not true. Trust me, I would know. I have asked some questions that have made people’s heads spin but I have no regrets. What is the fault of letting your thoughts fly? I will answer that question for you: maybe a moment of embarrassment but at the end of the day, it is all worth it. You can learn a lot about yourself by letting your imagination run wild and by asking STUPID questions. Do not tell me that you’re the kind of person that believes stupid questions don’t exist, right? As the honest pal I am, I will tell you the truth. Do not lie to yourself to make you feel better about that dumb question you asked last week. Just be humble and recognize the benefits of leaving your questions unfiltered, although be careful about who is listening. If you need some assurance, just learn from me. 

     We can start back in 2009. I was almost four years old, and I still had a lot to learn, obviously. I was not quite old enough yet to go to kindergarten so I had to become a big boy and say goodbye to my best friend. My sister Kendall was about to leave for her first day of school but I could not show that I was sad to be without her, because I was a big boy. Then I thought: now my parents will give me even more attention than I already got. I decided that I should show my parents how brave and anxious I was to go off to school, but my representation turned out to be in the form of a stupid question. I do not care that I was 3 years and some months old, no excuses here. Stupid questions have no age range. I waddled my little self over to my mom and blurted out a question before I had the time to really think about it, “If Kendall gets to go to Kendallgarten, when do I get to go to Tommygarten?” Yes, that may be hilarious to hear out of a little kid’s mouth but that does not mean it is not stupid. My parents cackled with laughter and this moment of joy enabled me to continue my journey of not thinking enough before asking. What was there to stop me? Why can you not do the same thing? All it did for me was make people laugh and who couldn’t use an extra laugh during their day? Just do it. Take the risk. Who cares? I know I don’t. Not convinced? Alright, here is another one.

     I will not sit here and lie, I’m not exactly sure when this was. All I know is that my sister was old enough to know better. My family and I were all sitting at the dinner table together, having a deep conversation. My sister had something on her mind that she really needed to know the answer to. She asked, “Is Italian a language? Or just an accent?” You have got to be joking me. Dissing all the Italians out there. What a shame. Do you think we should cancel her, even years later? LOL. My sister did not hold back. I think every person should agree that this question is in fact stupid. But regardless, it was still hilarious. This is a perfect example of why we should ALL ask more stupid questions. Wait just a second though, you have to hold people accountable for their stupid questions. That is the whole point. You can not just let someone get away clean. My family sure did not let my sister ever forget, even to this day. Whenever we eat Italian food, whenever another language comes up, or sometimes even just for the fun of it, we all badger my sister relentlessly. I know you must be convinced by now but I may as well give you one last story just for the fun. Why not?


Tommy Beason ’24, his sister Kendall, and her American Girl doll showing off their big smiles before a UNC Chapel Hill basketball game in 2012. (Sallie Beason)

     For this story, I will go outside of my family and instead to a friend, who will remain nameless out of courtesy. Many readers may actually know this person and after hearing this story, you may be able to guess fairly easily. I guess we’ll just see. This actually happened last year, in 2022 during the school day. You know how it goes during lunch, right? All of the guys sitting around the table talking about the most out of pocket things and sometimes even getting in arguments with each other. On this fine day however, the guys decided to play Would you Rather. With a group of high schoolers, this game can get a little bit risque. This time though, the game was not inappropriate but actually got pretty deep. After a few good questions, everyone was expecting more thought-provoking questions to follow. However, the moment one of our friends opened his mouth we knew it was over. He asked, “Would you rather: jump off a 20 foot building and land on concrete? Or jump off a 10 foot building and land in water?” After a few seconds of confusion, the laughing that happened could be heard from any place on campus. He too, will never be able to forget the stupid question he asked that day. You can not blame us though. You would do the same exact thing if that obvious and foolish of a question was asked by your peer, or at least I hope you would.

     The moral of the story: be yourself and let your thoughts fly. If you have stupid questions, YES, you will be reminded of them from time to time. But at the end of the day, the laughs are irreplaceable. The banter between friends or family is something that should be cherished forever. Life is short so don’t waste it wondering if your question is stupid. Just ask it.