I have friends who have PhD’s. I am married to an MD. I am surrounded by people who have been in school for nearly every year of their lives. And I feel so bad for them. In fact, I feel bad for all the poor fools who devote decades of their lives to delving into the depths of knowledge in any one discipline, when all they ever had to do was spend an hour Googling their specific area of interest. All the time and effort expended. All the pride at a job well done. All the meaning behind an official title. All of it, obsolete with the advent of “copy, paste, repeat”.
Obviously, I’m being ironic. Or is it sarcastic? HuffPost says I can use both in this case.
My point is that we’ve devolved into a very frenetic, paradoxical type of people, folks who will outright dismiss a bit of info if it comes from “them”, yet repost/retweet/resnap without a moment’s thought if it comes from “us”. We have a very small knowledge base, and a very huge ego. We’re skeptical and blindly trusting. We have convictions of concrete, but they lack rebar. We’re armchair experts, without the expertise.
I feel worst for the educated and learned because, in today’s world, no matter their level of education in their chosen topic, anyone smart enough to sign up for WordPress can come along, type right up to their face, and say, “Nuh-uh.” Having seen the level of perseverance and intake my wife has had to put in just to become a first year medical resident, it boggles my mind—and is downright offensive—when someone will actually say, “Eh, what do the ‘doctors’ know?” I always want to reply
something like, “Well, 35,770 more hours than you or I do!” (The product of 14-hour days times 7 years provided by Google Calculator)
I believe everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I believe everyone has the responsibility to admit when their opinion is ignorant, based on hearsay, merely reactionary, or all of the above.
One of my closest friends, Mike Phillips, is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota. He’s the one I turn to if I’m wondering about the quality of a piece of literature. For the purposes of writing this article, I asked him what his thesis was. His response was:
“I researched the ways in which 1800th century British novels address a reader as well as mark moments of fictional omission in the narrative. Both instances establish a fictional entity, a reader, as well as establish a fictional series of events, the narrative, that become both substantial and incomplete and unknowable.”
I don’t understand that sentence. I had to have him repeat it repeatedly in order just to write it down. As much as it pains me to have to defer to someone besides myself, common sense would dictate that I continue to approach him for the formation of my literary opinions. Why? Because he knows what he’s talking about, at least, more than I do. Of course, he regularly turns to me with questions regarding pomade or break-in tools.
We need humility so badly. Only humility can enable us to resist the temptation to conjure up a comment section soapbox and spew. We need humility to admit what’s true and what isn’t. We need humility in order to stop beginning our sentences with, “Well, I’ve always thought…”
To clarify, it’s not just about having a degree; it’s about what the degree signifies, the years and sacrifice. You don’t need a degree to have a wealth of knowledge. However, you do have to input a far greater amount of information than, say, a google search, in order to obtain a degree. It’s why so few people have degrees, for Pete’s sake! It requires a supreme amount of effort and will, whereas Google requires nothing. Google is the internet’s version of an honorary degree. Sure, it makes us feel like rebels to stand up to the establishment, like stickin’ it to the man, but we’ve got to make sure “the man” is wrong first, right? Otherwise, we’re like a car dealership’s inflatable, wobbly-guy, waving endlessly, but filled with air.
Basically, unless you’ve devoted years upon years to studying a specific topic, then you have to have the humility to at least question whether or not you should be talking about an issue. Any issue. Any belief.
It’s not easy, though. Believe me, I know, firsthand, how difficult it is to stop talking about something specifically because I’m uninformed in that area. You don’t see me spouting off about quantum physics, vaccines, or male modeling anymore, do you? No, because it turns out that I am not qualified to express anything more than a personal opinion about those topics.
Looking something up on Google doesn’t make you even an ounce closer to knowing what you’re talking about. There, I said it.
To think that we can get a firm grasp on any situation from a 140-character tweet is ludicrous.
What comes across your Facebook feed probably has as much in common with the truth as I do with Brad Pitt. Sure, people often confuse me for him when I’m out in public, but even a minute on his wikipedia page will tell you that we’re two very different people, leading very different lives.
I guess what I’m trying to say is: you’re ignorant.
Trust me; you’re ignorant.