Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Educate yourself!

Good afternoon!  I couldn’t help but notice that your opinion on a political or social issue is somewhat different from my own.  This makes you wrong, morally inferior, and an obstacle to the perfection of society.  Might I make a helpful suggestion?  Actually, it’s not so much a helpful suggestion as it is a buzzword that I’ve heard repeated by people in academia, and it always seemed really cool when they said it, so I’d like to say it too, at this point.  What I would suggest is this:  that you EDUCATE YOURSELF.

Now, you may be confused at this point.  You may find yourself wondering why I’d make a superficially polite request as this in such a confrontational and patronizing tone.  You may also wonder at the fact that I am actually, literally wagging my finger in your face at this time, as if you were a toddler.  If this situation confuses you, perhaps you’ve been insufficiently attentive to the subtext of the catchphrase I’ve borrowed.  This is unsurprising, given that you are stupid and indeed not fully human.  For these reasons, I want to be explicit about what I actually mean when I parrot this particular catchphrase.  I think that you will find that it is a truly versatile rhetorical choice, capable of conveying all sorts of information about me, and my comfort in my own perspective.  To wit:

--ANY PERSPECTIVE THAT DIFFERS FROM MY OWN IS THE PRODUCT OF IGNORANCE.  In an abstract sense, I believe in the concept of plural perspectives, that people’s different experiences can produce different, equally legitimate views of the world.  Indeed, that belief is a cornerstone of my political philosophy.  In theory.  But…well…not now, and not you.  You haven’t arrived at your opinions through a different weighing of the evidence or a different set of life experiences; you’re just flat damn wrong and ignorant as hell.  If only you read the same stuff and listened to the same talking points as my ideological allies and I, even a poltroon like you would arrive at the same conclusions we have.  For we are objectively correct and our opinions on this matter will never, ever evolve in any way.

--MY PERSUASIVE SKILLS SUCK.  I am told that there exist, somewhere in the world, people who possess the actual ability to change minds.  These magical creatures have developed a method whereby they share new information with others; they leverage this information to generate sympathy and understanding in their targets, and to produce, if not a complete reversal of their target’s opinion, then at least a new appreciation for their own perspective.  That sounds like hard work.  It’s much more fun for me to wag my finger in your face.  Behold my wagging finger!  Ain’t it cool?

--YOU’RE NOT WORTH MY TIME.  I am a truly special creature, and to be in my presence is a very great privilege.  The world is full of disadvantaged souls who will never spend even a single second with me.  I must carefully ration my time on this earth amongst those who have earned the right through purity of ideology or physical attractiveness.  To spend even another moment attempting to save your benighted soul is beneath me, and would constitute punishment of those who are, even now, being denied my presence.  Therefore, go hence; go out into the world and seek to obtain that knowledge which would elevate you, if not to my level, than at least to a level that might be worthy of my notice.

--EDUCATORS ARE UNWORTHY OF RESPECT.  I spend an awful lot of time in the social media praising teachers to the heavens, and an even larger amount of time alleging that those who deny funding to public education are troglodytes.  Yes, I am a great champion of education, which is why I am calling for you to seek it for yourself.  But…you know, I’m not actually such a fan of education that I would myself stoop to the providing of it.  Again, my time is too valuable; I have better things to do.  Other, lesser beings must attend to that practice.

--I’M NOT ACTUALLY TALKING TO YOU; I’M TALKING TO THAT GUY OVER THERE.  This must be obvious; no respectful conversation in human history has ever included the phrase “educate yourself”.  Why would I engage you privately or directly?  No, this isn’t about you; it’s about that girl over there who’s certain to be impressed by my dizzying intellect and moral prowess; it’s about that judge in the back of the room for whom I am attempting to establish a claim of superiority; it’s about my observing buddies, with whom I will share a beer later as we celebrate my pwnage of your thick-skulled self.

I want to thank you for giving me the opportunity to tell you to “educate yourself”; deploying this phrase has been a highly enjoyable experience for me.  On the downside, society is a tiny bit more balkanized than it was before this conversation started; you will almost certainly do the opposite of what I’ve told you to do, as my disrespect for your beliefs and for people like you will engender the same opinions in you with regard to people like me.  But on the upside, I feel really smug and superior, and I’ve avoided the necessity of subjecting my own opinions to any form of analytical rigor or challenge.

And at the end of the day, isn’t that what education is all about? 

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