A followon to yesterday’s post.
The plight of the specialist is that nobody understands you.
You’re a tech guy and you’re surrounded by non-engineers. You’re a PhD whose discipline is lost on the general public. You’re a classical pianist and your kids like to crank up Avril Lavigne. You’re a mathematician whose Wikipedia entry is critiqued by dunderheaded liberal-arts-major bloggers.
The really unfortunate thing is that many specialists respond by characterizing everyone else as stupid. “They just don’t get it” is one my least favorite phrases – it’s dismissive, it’s snotty and most of all, it’s a cop-out. If you want people to understand and appreciate your area of knowledge, it’s up to YOU to figure out how to communicate about it in an interesting way. The world does not owe you their appreciation, and (are you sitting down?) there’s nothing inherent to your discipline that makes it more worthy of attention than everybody else’s. Book smart isn’t the only kind of smart. Physicists aren’t the only intelligent life on the planet.
It’s good for me to repeat this periodically. Because I sometimes encounter difficulty persuading people of the value of my ideas. Easy to resort to blaming them, but that doesn’t get me anywhere.