How Much Do You Know?

I tricked you! This isn’t a quiz on Buzzfeed or PlayBuzz or any of those 10 question baseless surveys that tell you which Kardashian you are or what color your aura is. Don’t get me wrong, I love a good mindless clicking session, usually redoing a quiz to get the answer I want (because, seriously, I WILL get Dorothy as my true Golden Girl). Those sites only want your traffic for advertising, which you probably don’t notice anyway.

“Do you even understand?”

We live in a world in which everyone is an activist and everyone knows everything. And why shouldn’t we boast that— information is at our fingertips. If you can’t Google something in 10 seconds, then what’s the point of having access to all the knowledge in the world?

I’m a proponent of this technology. But, even as optimistic as I can be about it, there are downsides.

In no way am I insinuating that I’m holier than thou; I’m merely observing trends on social media. We love to “like” and “share” posts because it fills some void in our vapidity and points the finger— without doing work to solve them. The thought process is this: I deeply care about poverty, so I’m going to post three stories from Upworthy, just so everyone knows I’m about change. Great! Advocacy is the first step. When was the last time you volunteered? (Again, this is where I concede and admit to lightly volunteering here and there). But when your Timeline or Newsfeed is littered with random causes, are you actively making a change, or just giving free publicity to causes? There is a difference between talking the talk and walking the walk. And we like to flex our muscles about who is a better activist. Oh, you read an article on Jezebel? Gosh. Your feminism is so much better than mine. Let me call Susan B. Anthony and turn in my card.

I would argue that, in a lot of cases, we are flaunting causes just to convey to the general public that we aren’t assholes. The remedy? Don’t be an asshole. You can relax into your passions and educate without seeking validation.

“So, I read this article, and…”

It goes farther than pressing issues. Since we know everything, we are experts on every topic. And it is my pet peeve when a conversation evolves into a pissing match between someone who read an article and someone educated in a field. For example, I did not study biology in college. I did not take one bio-themed class, and the extent of my knowledge dates way back to high school; so, I’ve probably forgotten the entire concept of a cytoplasm or who Mitochondria was. Therefore, I leave it to dear friends who studied health sciences or medicine to inform me all about the field. But because someone with no background in health “read an article” about the latest and greatest medical practices, that doesn’t mean that they have any credibility whatsoever. It’s a regurgitation of boiled down knowledge, handed to you in simplistic forms that you may easily comprehend.

One thing with which I do not easily deal well is condescension. Because you have no knowledge in a subject, don’t preach to me about it. Endless pontification about a topic with which you have little experience only makes you seem foolish— especially when I do have knowledge. It would be like someone discussing with me the 1500 rule plaguing the aviation industry right now. Not only did I devote my past four years to studying the industry, I’m personally feeling the effects of said legislation. And you think after reading a USA Today piece that you can debate it? Sit down.

Memes from Facebook’s “I Fucking Love Science” are fantastic for snippets of sensationalized, flashy stories on interesting happenings in our world. But if you take an article, read it, and run with it as testimony to your expertise, you are doing the authors a disservice by acting as their colleagues.

Is this diluting our knowledge? No. Is possessing knowledge not within your study or scope a bad thing? Not at all. It makes for good fodder for conversation. But there are dedicated individuals in each field who are the real experts— and by no means do I consider myself an expert in any field, other than LGBT Young Adult literature, featuring romances between gay male teens.  How’s that for specific!

As my mother always says, “You can’t have a battle of wits with an unarmed person.”

One thought on “How Much Do You Know?

  1. Matt

    YES! Yes! Yes! I think sites like IFL Science are great to give people that do not have expertise in the field an idea of what’s going on. It’s very good at bridging the knowledge gaps as are other sites, but then, as you say, people treat it like an honorary doctorate.

    Good read.

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