It’s not my job to educate you
…we’ve all seen that somewhere. And no, if you aren’t drawing a teaching salary, it isn’t your ‘job’.
My concern is that people asking for information is coming dangerously close to being seen as ‘entitlement’: as in, if you weren’t you and didn’t have the contextual awareness of a rock you should already know all this. Stop making me explain things you should know to you.
I get it. I’ve lived it all my life. It’s really annoying when people ask you about stuff you know and they don’t just to understand what the hell you’re talking about when that ‘stuff’ is every day for you. On the other hand, if you want people to understand, even if it isn’t your job, I put it to you that throwing a hissy fit about how it isn’t your job to educate people may not be the best possible alternative.
My context is that I come from somewhere no one’s ever heard of and my environment growing up was one that almost no one has. If someone wanders up to me to introduce themselves and asks me that innocent little question about where I’m from, I can either lie or get myself involved in educating them.
Since my school years, I’ve never been comfortable having this discussion. This means that while, no, it may not lose me a job or get me stoned in the street, about every other time I meet someone new I get to choose between lying or enjoying a nice bout of social anxiety and a rash of bad memories. And then, after that, I get to educate them.
This is how it tends to go.
Stranger: “Oh hey, hi, I’m so-and-so, nice to meet you!”
Me: *Oh, Jesus, should’ve ducked behind the buffet* “Hi, nice to meet you so-and so.”
S: “Hey, cute accent! Where are you from?”
Me: *ohshitohshit here we go again* “Oh, thanks! I’m from Gibraltar.”
S: “Gibraltar! That’s in Australia, right?”
Me: *argh* “No, it’s a British territory in the south of Spain. You might have heard of the Strait of Gibraltar, joins the Atlantic and the Mediterranean?”
S: “That’s so cool! Did you grow up there?”
Me: *oh god, now we’re for it* “No, my parents travelled a lot.”
S: “Oh, cool! So I guess you’ve got great frequent flyer perks?”
Me: *please kill me* “Uh, no, we lived on a boat.”
S: *really gets their extrovert happy on* “A boat?!?!”
…and so on.
There is actually a Facebook group called “Yes, I’m from Gibraltar; no, I can’t be arsed to tell you where it is”, and I didn’t start it, which means that yes, I do absolutely ‘get’ not wanting to have to explain your personal context to other people. So, apparently, does almost everyone else from my country who’s ever left it.
However, if I’m speaking to someone who isn’t well-travelled, which a lot of people aren’t, or aren’t well-educated on non-*wherever* geography, which is most people, I can explain, or I can be an arsehole. The latter certainly comes easier, but is it really fair to blame some random person for not knowing something that’s every day life for me and not to them?
I can certainly walk off when they start asking stupid questions about boats, too, but again, is it really fair to expect that they should know? And if they don’t, which is, again, most people, then I can either explain, and they’ll go away better informed if not any wiser. And then, next time they meet some random weirdo who’s sailed, they’ll know that yes, such people exist, and that conversation will go easier. Not for me, of course, but for the next poor sod who shares any part of my personal context.
Is there a huge difference between someone asking for information and someone asking because they’re trying to get at you?
Yes, of course there is, and those people are at least partly why I hate having these conversations. Being ‘different’ is just tons of fucking fun with a cherry onna top in some situations.
However, I’m a firm supporter of giving people at least a sentence to hang themselves in. I’ll absolutely be an arsehole to someone out looking for a rise. Someone who’s merely trying to ameliorate their ignorance by asking someone else who’s just admitted to being a source of first-hand information, that I’ll hesitate to do unless I’m having a really awesomely foul day.
In other words, my attitude is indeed entirely dependent on you. It’s not my job to educate you, but if I want you better-informed it may be in my best interests, or if not mine, the next poor schmuck’s, to do so.