Today i was told to Fuck Off for trying to explain that there is no such thing as Truth and Facts. I quote:
I’m sure that years of training on how to debate words like, real or true or factual, can make you feel superior and above the fray of day to day decisions and paychecks, but please take your very studied agenda, and masturbate it somewhere else. With all due respect, you are not my fucking guru. …though I am pissed off right now, I still like you. don’t post on this note again.
The whole conversation started with a question:
how do you know when a particular news post that is in support of your own personal beliefs isn’t propaganda? Where do you go for impartial reporting, and how do you decipher the difference?
I took the bait. And tried to explain, as gently as possible that there is no such thing as an agenda-less news source. In the end, i was told to fuck off. It’s a bit strange – but i suppose that’s the reality of the difference between being paid to be a teacher and taking that role beyond the classroom.
In some ways, it’s a bit like the moment when i have a students crying in my office because their world views have been turned upside down. Usually, i have the hour and a half to explain how to work through this conundrum, but in the virtual world, there is a place to simply shut me down. I’ve not been paid for my views.
The difficulty is to recognize that there is no Truth (with a capital T) or Facts (with a capital F). Life is so very unknowable – it is so very strange and beautiful. It is what i love about teaching and about researching – knowing that i will only ever be able to weave the stories that i find important in life. There are billions of stories to weave – some strange and ugly, some so plain and beautiful.
The difficulty is in knowing that notions of Truth and Facts are a phantom of the Enlightenment Era – some search for a kind of scientific truth that somehow transcends the complexities of humanity. But worse is knowing that it’s not that simple – that there is no way to explain that in a way that is not wanted.
Would we really prefer that life was simple? Would we be better off if there was some kind of simplistic frame of knowing? I sometimes wish i could hold that simplicity…to search for Truth instead of trying to simply find the stories that no one wants to hear? I wish i knew that there was some kind of Set of Facts that would simply let this world be explainable – a simplicity that allowed life to be understandable.
But it’s not.
I love what i do. I love the work i put into my studies and teaching. But today was a strong and important reminder that what i do is unimportant and uninteresting – even frustrating and rude – to the people that are my friends.
I feel like i live in two worlds – an academic world of people who want to explore these relationships and a non-academic world of people whom i simply confuse and irritate…how to learn when to turn it off…?