A defining quality in using Twitter is expressing anger. It’s hard to browse the platform without seeing someone’s injustice experience — which is rightfully complained about — or other nuanced frustrations about society. The challenge here is expressing how you feel with such limited characters. You only get 280 characters. What if I told you it was half of that four years ago?
As discussed on John and Hank Green’s podcast, Dear Hank & John, hibernation is a perfect metaphor for this discourse. Oftentimes, subjects are more complicated and obtuse than they appear. As children, we’re taught that animals such as bears will just…sleep…for several months, when that isn’t so much what’s actually happening.
Myths like this are debunked all the time on the internet. U.S. and North American history is where this is very common. In high school, we’re taught that Christopher Columbus “sailed the ocean blue” to prove that the Earth is round, not flat, when actually, it was common knowledge that the Earth wasn’t flat in the late-1400s. If you browse the internet around “Columbus Day,” a flood of tweets will roll in explaining this, some to go as far to say that Columbus never actually landed in the United States. Some will even explain how he thought the Earth was small and pear-shaped. No one knew the Americas existed, they thought he would die at sea.
He was a moron.
What seems to happen here is that people like learning, but only to feel superior to others and their peers, rather than to learn out of curiosity’s sake.
Obviously the Columbus example is far more simplified: some writer wanted to make a quick buck, so he decided to over-exaggerate and lie about Columbus and the book became a phenom with Italian-Americans who painted him as an Italian hero — even though he’s technically not Italian since Italy didn’t exist until the 1900s.
Hibernation is more complicated and no, as you guessed, hibernation isn’t just sleep. Mostly, hibernation is almost like putting your phone on battery-save mode. Bears do this, and while their hibernation is a lot of sleep, they do often “wake up” periodically. But I’m no expert so I won’t overcomplicate things with my lack of knowledge.
And that’s just it — I don’t need to know about hibernation. You know who does though? A scientist who might study animals who hibernate. Even to some scientists, hibernation has a different definition. Either way, my understanding of hibernation should be simplified. But some people have taken to the internet to explain that bears don’t hibernate, simply because they’re out here “waking up” periodically. Just because it’s a zero doesn’t mean it’s 100.
I’m not interested in learning everything because I want to be superior to someone else. I’m interested in studying things out of curiosity and discovering information fact-checked by reputable sources. For example, a medical professional’s opinion on vaccinations will be much more credible whereas Kelly on Twitter who has no medical background and “suspects” her child may have autism due to a vaccination will not be credible at all.
That self-awareness is important because no one will ever know everything. I need like six different doctors for six different things because studying medicine is much more complicated than just “being a doctor.” And more often than not, the problems that trouble society will never be as simple that Greg on Twitter can figure them out. Replying to so-called “experts” online with your own “expert” opinion won’t solve these issues.
This is why it’s so important to listen to the people working in these fields every day. It’s vital to align and listen to the WHO, CDC, and other medical journals about wearing a mask and social distancing. Facts are important and if we don’t have them, then what the fuck is the point?
You do not need to know everything, but your mind needs to be open and always willing to learn.