Educating is teaching someone a fact. Swaying someone to agree with your opinion on something is not educating them. It’s simply convincing them to agree with you, nothing more.
Facts don’t change based on perspective.
“It is not educating someone if you convince them of your interpretation. “
Facts are things that are not open to interpretation, perception, or perspective. Facts don’t change based on what you believe or think.
Telling someone that water is composed of two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen is educating them because, no matter what you think or believe, it remains an unchanging fact.
Telling someone that an image contains messages that marginalize some group is completely open to interpretation. There is no objective fact there. It is not educating someone if you convince them of your interpretation. It is simply convincing them to agree with your point of view, nothing more.
In this Age of Obfuscation, it has become rather commonplace for people to believe that, by spreading certain narratives, they are educating people.
The case of the cartoon.
“Even if a majority of people share a belief that a certain narrative is correct, it doesn’t mean they’re right.”
I had a friend who had a habit of declaring things as being “ableist”. It was due to the issue lenses she had created due to having a lot of extremely debilitating disabilities. She fell into the trap of seeing everything as a comment on disability.
Shortly after Stephen Hawking passed, a cartoon went around that showed him in the afterlife, walking away from his wheelchair.
She insisted that this cartoon was ableist. She felt that it marginalized disabled people somehow. She was not alone. She even posted a link to a blog that stated several reasons why it must be ableist as “evidence” of her “fact”. I told her that it can’t be inherently so, as there are a lot of people who find beauty in the idea that he is finally free of his disabilities. Also, as someone who has a few disabilities myself, I know that having disabilities sucks! If there’s an afterlife, I would sure hope to be free of them!
She and many others saw the idea that disabilities are something one might want to be free of as a judgment of disabled people themselves. When I suggested that her perception is a choice I didn’t remain her friend for much longer. I was not offended by that as I refuse to enable anyone’s intentional victimhood.
Even if a majority of people share a belief that a certain narrative is correct, it doesn’t mean they’re right. It just means they agree with each other.
You are entitled to your own opinions, but not your own facts.
“No narrative that is about finding offense does a single thing to combat any social ills.”
Sadly, many people think their opinions hold the same validity as facts. This is objectively false. It doesn’t matter how fervently one holds a belief, it’s is only perception and not an objective fact. Perceiving something as offensive is a choice.
Many would make the argument that, while their opinion is admittedly not a solid fact, it is still important that they spread their narrative to “educate” people in the interest of fighting social injustice.
As we’ve learned, that’s not educating. No narrative that is about finding offense does a single thing to combat any social ills. Gathering people together to declare something as offensive not only solves nothing, but it serves to further polarize people and ends up exacerbating the very issues that one is trying to address.
It only inflames one’s sense of victimhood, and when their narrative is shot down, they may narcissistically view themselves as a downtrodden martyr.
Opinions are fine, but are no substitute for education or action.
To have and share opinions is a natural human propensity. However, we must be careful not to fool ourselves into think that sharing our opinions is necessarily useful or important.
A more effective use for our passion for justice would be to fight for policy changes that help marginalized groups. Instead, many resort to some form of well-intentioned, but misguided form of censorship.