IFL Science and Perceived Exceptionalism

So today humanity made a remarkable achievement you may not have heard about: a spacecraft landed on the surface of a comet.

Just kidding! Of course you heard about it. Everyone with access to even the most basic online news sources has heard about it because it is HEADLINE NEWS.

Screen shot 2014-11-12 at 2.57.29 PM

Ridiculous post, but OK, let’s give this person exactly the response they want to hear.

“LOL becuz most people are talking about Kim Kardashian’s butt!! You are the only smart person you know and you are so far above everyone else. The world is ignoring this, especially America becuz America hates that a dirty EUROPEAN agency achieved something LMAO. You are such a cool smart nerd for caring about this obscure development!! Bazinga 4 life!!”

Never mind the fact that three of the top trending hashtags on Twitter relate to this same story, all major news outlets have been following it, and it is also the top trending story on Facebook.

As much as I personally dislike when people get invested in topics simply to fit in with everyone else, I recognize that a need to belong is a human instinct and berating them for doing it reeks of the same haughty attitude I’m criticizing. I’m not saying “GTFO you are not a TRUE fan, poser!!”

But the perceived exceptionalism people develop just because they posted a link is intellectually dishonest, and not restricted to scientific stories.

You are not a special snowflake for jumping on the bandwagon of a viral story that everyone is talking about. You are not a special snowflake for linking to a Buzzfeed thinkpiece about gender roles in Disney movies. You were not a special snowflake when you dumped a bucket of water over your head and you were certainly not a special snowflake when you changed your profile picture to “Stop Kony 2012“.

You are “caring” without caring. If you don’t think something valid is a big enough issue in the world, get out of your chair and go and MAKE it an issue in the real world.