A few times I had been accused of being too “pushy” in discussions and of “crushing” people with my “intellect”. As you can probably infer from the fact that I am writing about it in the first place, I have a problem with that (and here comes the ‘rrrrrrrant’ :D). Specifically, I have a big problem with people, who have a big problem with me doing that. A short summary of everything I think about such people and their motivations is the infamous “WTF?”. For those of you interested in some more extensive details – proceed at your own risk.
1. Never in my wildest dreams of over 20 years of active pursuit of knowledge has it occurred to me that this pursuit is something fucking shameful. It has never crossed my mind that knowledge is a bad thing to collect, expand and nourish. I was equally oblivious to the fact that having some knowledge was to be kept secret from the rest of the world, as other people may happen to find some of that knowledge unsettling to their psychological comfort of assumed, consequential or imposed ignorance.
For those of you out there thinking this way, I have a suggestion: move to a rural village, preferably in Africa, somewhere very far from fresh water and very close to malaria and stay there for life. Get your life support exclusively from practicing occupations that are not different and equally available to all villagers. Grow your kids there. Repeat cycle indefinitely.
How does that relate? Well, as it happens, KNOWLEDGE is the EXACT fucking thing that allows your hypocrite asses to SHUN me for mine on your laptops over your wireless while you’re sitting on your asses in your comfortable a/c climate-controlled houses, drinking your refrigerated beers/freshly brewed coffees. Unfortunately, knowledge is also what will allow you to keep doing that same shit for roughly 80 years (roughly a double of life expectancy of that in sub-Saharan Africa, with the exception of S. Africa), as you are unlikely to die from preventable diseases, malnutrition and so forth. You are also rather safe from famine caused by local drought or flooding, even if long-term. If you have such a huge fucking problem with other people’s knowledge – book your tickets to the new life where very little has penetrated to yet NOW.
2. The immense advancements in the levels of prosperity and general well-being in our world have all been tied up with this one little thing… the SPREAD of KNOWLEDGE on MASS scale. Be it the written language, the printing press, the telecommunications or ‘universal’ education – all of those pushed the world ahead incredibly fast and to incredible new places. I bet your cute little cappuccino maker would agree. So would your cell-phone, your computer, your car, TV, etc.
That YOU happen to disagree, however, is another problem to me. So I had been (un)lucky enough (because yes – it affected my sleep adversely, if you’re wondering) to learn a lot of things in my life. I had put hours of effort and a shitload of money into it, too. Then when I share bits and pieces of that knowledge, all of a sudden I am “patronizing” and should “shut up” and “stop trying to prove how smart you are”…
Let me get this straight: back in them days it was thought that bathing (think Europe, Versailles – times described by Dumas (Dumas WHO?… (hint: use Google))) was causing disease, as it was thought to be spread by water… You can thank them for inventing the perfume for that exact reason, by the way (washing was a no-no, so the next best way to cover up the stench was to make something that stinks ever stronger to top that with… Indeed, those were fragrant times…). When someone later discovered that, alas, it was poor hygiene that causes disease and washing is not just not bad, but necessary… according to YOU, they were supposed to KEEP IT TO THEM-FUCKING-SELVES???????????????????????
So next time you tell me to shut up and stop sharing knowledge, please spare me the typing effort and ask yourself right away, in my voice: “Are you fucking kidding me???”
3. I also get often accused of over-inflated self-esteem, pomposity, arrogance, sense of self-importance and all of those other attributes of ego-mania, narcissism and Napoleon complex – put together. Apparently, because I talk down at people. And sound patronizing. And guess what? Yeah, I DO. Got a problem with that? Here’s why you probably should NOT have it:
First of all, my ego is fine, thank you. I possess a strong enough self-criticizing inner voice, and my friends (my REAL friends, as in those people who actually interact with me in reality, not online, and yes – I have plenty, thank you for your concern) in fact ask me if I don’t suffer from exactly opposite self-esteem issues at times. It is that self-criticism and presumption of (*GASP!!!*) LIMITED KNOWLEDGE that keep me going in pursuit of, well, more knowledge to correct myself and my understanding with. CONSTANTLY. It is that self-criticism that allows me to, however painful it may be cognitively, realize that damn, that person, or that professor, or that lecturer, or that book have a valid point I had previously discarded, regarded as irrelevant or simply as nonsense.
And here is to the people who have an issue with me “talking down” at them. My dear counterparts, please don’t blame ME for something you bring ONTO YOURSELVES, okay?
Explanation: I was hardened by fierce intellectual debates with people EONS more intelligent and knowledgeable than I can ever dream of becoming, so your whining, first and foremost, comes through as whining.
Those debates I had very often tore my arguments and positions into pieces, crumbled my mind down and buried any traces of my self-esteem, in that instant of their collapse, under the rubble. Guess what though? I am still here and I am infinitely grateful to ALL people who have been able to “intellectually crush” me in my life to that state of brain-rubble. It was unpleasant, discomforting, near-physically painful at times and even I-can’t-bear-living-in-the-world-like-this type of despair-inducing. BUT, it was also the most liberating and advancing set of experiences I had gone through, and I hope for many more to come (which is exactly why I binge on online articles, TED talks, documentaries and other outlets of credible information I can get to). Have I been talked down to by those people who advanced my knowledge and understanding? ALL THE FUCKING TIME. And I even paid for it. So what is YOUR problem once again?
Ah, I know. YOUR problem is that YOU take debates PERSONALLY and consider facts and knowledge presented that oppose your view an attack on your personality (which, actually, is fully explainable by how your brain works, in case you know any psych… oh, wait, IF you knew any psych, you wouldn’t fall for that trap set by your brain, would understand what’s going on and would healthily dissociate your SELF from the cognitive discourse on a topic that you’re currently having, so never mind – scrap that). YOUR problem is that you DO NOT want to, in fact, EVER learn anything that contradicts what you already think is correct because it is emotionally unsettling and unpleasant to de-construct ideas deeply embedded into your brain, however false (somewhere in the “What the Bleep do we Know: Down the Rabbit Hole”, whatever your overall views of that movie may be, there is a greatly informative part on the neurological torment you go through during un-learning, which I highly recommend watching). YOUR problem is that you enter into a debate over extremely complex topics with the simplistic, limited knowledge of the issue that you gain (rather way too often) from extremely controlled media sources and limited school curriculum for the most part. And your problem is that, despite all this, YOU think that YOU KNOW IT ALL AND YOU KNOW IT ALL BETTER.
Reality check: you fucking don’t.
Back to talking down: lack of knowledge on someone’s behalf alone, of course, gives me no license whatsoever to get agitated and talk down at people. And, surprise-surprise – I don’t. But I WILL talk down at anyone who enters into a discussion with a limited understanding and ACTS as if they knew how the world works. NO ONE knows how the world works, duh. Stop acting like YOU do. Stop ranting over how I talk down at you when YOU call me “ignorant” for not accepting YOUR obviously (well, maybe not so to you) bullshit, limited little view on something that I happen to have by the (un)fortunate virtue of my education a SLIGHTLY better idea about. If you can actually support your point by some tangible, peer-reviewed (preferably) sources other than “I THINK this is THAT WAY” (“because the TV/holy book/mom/weather man told me so…”) – then give me THAT instead. Then we can talk.
If you’ve hung around my FB wall for a while, this is what Petr is great at – he always looks up info and digs up links to evidence that supports his point. And many times it is very solid evidence, indeed. (Actually, for those who followed our intense disagreement on the free market virtues – we managed to come to a consensus just recently on even THAT topic. Now THAT is a civil discourse in action. It didn’t work online but in person – bam. Magic) Sometimes it isn’t, so we research further and so it goes until an understanding, or a change of views, or a compromise, or a civil truce (when we realize the debate has come to a standstill due to equal validity of evidence on both sides available to date) is reached.
In short: if you notice me talking down to you, maybe you should change your “fuck you, you intellectual self-righteous bitch, I am RIGHT anyway and you’re just out to prove how fucking smart you are” (as if being smart is such a horrible, TERRIBLE, appalling thing…) attitude to “okay, she’s kinda annoying but maybe I can learn a thing or two and hold my horses in the meantime”. The wizardry of THIS approach is such that, immediately upon that change of YOUR attitude, mine changes as well, and we enter a phase of a civil discourse. If you wanna know one of the ways how to, then maybe “inviting the other to lunch” is something you might wanna watch.
4. Say instead we enter a phase of a heated argument. See how long it takes you to start accusing me of personally attacking you, anger, hostility and other EMOTIONAL attributes… (trust me guys, you’re up to your ears thinking about how pissed off and mad and angry and raging furious and ranting I am by, probably, sentence 3-5 of my commentary on any topic. Pardon my sarcasm, as it simply sifts through what I write beyond my control and makes you think so. There’s an easy cure for that: chill off an have a laugh. Better cure: retaliate in kind – I love other people who can pun on the pun with me, it’s amazingly refreshing to the brain).
Problem with my ravishing anger? Well, let’s start with “it ain’t so”. You’d say it is though, because I ATTACK you in a debate… (as in, obviously, I have devised some smart technology to magically materialize behind your back from the internet and, say, chase you down with a knife yelling “COMPEEEEELLLL, BIAAATCH!!!!!”, or something).
Now, remember how I just “accused” you of taking debates PERSONALLY a bit earlier on? THAT is the problem. You will NEVER have me talk nicely to you if you can’t have a debate on the equal grounding of “we’re discussing a topic here, NOT personalities of ours”. Sorry. Because personality-based arguments are kitchen arguments, usually circular, no one wishes to learn from the other side and everyone wants to simply win the pissing contest. Thanx, but no thanx. You enter into my realm with that assumption – either acting that way or thinking I act that way, you get what you deserve. So stop whining about it already.
Also, note that my “attacks” are ALWAYS and ONLY on the LACK of KNOWLEDGE, information and understanding of something. Read the following sentence very carefully: THIS DOES NOT TRANSLATE INTO ME ATTACKING YOUR INNATE INTELLIGENCE, ABILITY TO LEARN, HUMAN WORTH, CHARACTER OR QUALITY OF THEREOF.
Burn this onto your fucking foreheads if it’s so hard to remember – for the sake of true intellectual advancement.
No one will scorn you for not knowing something you had not come across yet, DUH. Neither, in fact, would anyone scorn you for holding views formed by limited access to information and knowledge (if people do, punch them 🙂 ). I won’t do that either. I WILL scorn you for lashing at me when I present you with information you haven’t considered yet as if I personally attack you, instead of saying “hmmm, okay I don’t like what this says, but let me investigate and see if this is valid and, whether or not, where this stems from and whether its premises are valid”. This, ideally, should be followed by some extensive research on your behalf (I can’t reasonably expect everyone to sacrifice their Farmville or Lost time to research stuff, but maybe at least some of you?…), conducted with an open mind. Maybe you can start by researching what constitutes a “credible source”, too, if your school/university didn’t have that and stick to that methodology.
And for goodness sake learn to say “I don’t know, actually/I have only been exposed to very few sources on this this far… I would need to look further into this to form an opinion”… I have NEVER heard this phrase from any of the people accusing me of bashing them down. EVER. And this is telling of their attitude, for which they get that bashing in the first place. Because this is what I do, and anyone with a right mind should do. If you haven’t heard something before, however “wrong” or “ridiculous” YOU think that whatever is – IN-FUCKING-VESTIGATE it first, please, will ya? That YOU haven’t heard it, or that GOOGLE almighty turns no search results (someone killed me one day with THAT as evidence of something being “false”: “Google didn’t show any results”… I wonder WTF was that person searching for when the disputed information was, in fact, a verbatim copy-pasted set of three quotes from Wikipedia… (p.s. I actually followed the FOOTNOTES first to see the sources and rate their credibility before copying those presented facts – I strongly recommend doing that, too). And hint: NOT ALL INFORMATION in the world is actually ONLINE. DUH. Some of it is only in printed books (in fact, rather a lot), textbooks, minds of incredibly intelligent other people. In addition, people SUCK at using search engines properly, but it’s another problem), doesn’t mean something is immediately invalid, false or non-existent. Go to libraries, ask university professors (or ask your kid to bother university professors… (note: does NOT apply to religious universities, for the most part. You can only grill them on a specific theology), or your friends – ask EXPERTS. And not ONE expert (especially if just self-proclaimed with no way of proving it), ask SEVERAL. And only when a pattern emerges in your search, and also only after you investigated all, even if most ridiculous to you, available points of view on the matter – only THEN can you say you have reached some understanding of a topic.
It takes time and effort, yes. Your search into the rule of law, for example, can lead you virtually anywhere inter-disciplinary, from psychology to anthropology to philosophy to economics to ethics to you-bloody-name-it. And some of you may find it exhausting and give up and say “I don’t give a flying fuck”. Fine. Just don’t come to me to TALK about things then and express your opinion on them as a self-validating truth of some sorts. There IS NO truth. And if your opinion is misinformed, at least have the humility to understand and realize and accept that maybe it is just not a very well-grounded opinion after all, based on very limited information. And be ready to part with it if it happens to be crashed by evidence beyond any doubt, too. THEN come talk with me. There simply is not one truth. There is only humble pursuit of more knowledge that never ever ends.
Finally, I also get people accusing me of acting as if I “know-it-all”. No darlings, I’m acting as if “I-know-slightly-more-than-you-do-and-it-pisses-me-off-that-you-have-no-will- to – get – to – know – that – slightly-more-and-yet-call-ME-names-for-trying-to- share – some – knowledge – with – you-that-you-actually-implicitely-asked-me-for-by-the-virtue – of – entering – the – debate – in – the-first-place-as-a-debate-is-nothing-but-an-exchange-of-information-in-order-to-expand-and-or-correct-one’s-point-of-view-and-or-understanding-of-a-given-issue-so-like-WTF”. If that didn’t convince you, I have another enlightening blog entry on why exactly I am always right.