Compassion For The Knowledge Gapped: A Call To Action

I am knowledge-gapped. I was telling my son, Cam about the recent news that MySpace was allowing profiles to be delivered in search results. His mock look of interest and “Hmm…Wow…Really?…No!” as he “participated” in the conversation made me finally blurt out:

“Hey! I think I know a thing or two about the internet! I work for a search engine marketing firm, after all!”

“Well,” he calmly countered, “maybe it’s the way you constantly mix up ‘MySpace’ with ‘Facebook’ that bugs me.” He then launched into a perfect parody of me, trying to “casually mention” the recent Facebook change. He knows I am not on Facebook. He, of all people, knows where I am knowledge-gapped.

It was this conversation that got me thinking. Plenty of people are hobbled by their knowledge gaps. Reluctant to expose their lack of knowledge, they keep falling further behind and the knowledge gaps get bigger. They feel overwhelmed by the task of learning “Internet as a Second Language”. Venturing into conversation means risking their pride. It means making clumsy mistakes like interchanging MySpace & Facebook.

Those whose native tongue is internet can’t be blamed for having a laugh at the expense of these newcomers. It’s funny to hear someone with a thick accent try to navigate their new tongue. The risk the knowledge-gapped take just might result in the mocking they fear.

But, as Ricky Bobby so eloquently explains, risks need to be taken or we will miss out on fantastic new things.

So here’s a call to action to all the knowledge-gapped: Let your pride go. The colonists know things. They know how to navigate the landscape. You aren’t diminished by their knowledge. We all have knowledge gaps. In the last few years, it was easy to lag behind. Don’t despair.

And if you’re an internet townie here’s your call to action: start treating the knowledge-gapped like unpolished “country mouse” cousins, immigrants longing for the motherland of rotary dial land phones and easy remote controls; embrace them and help them learn the ropes of your favorite gathering places online. Tolerate their thick accents and halting speech.

In fact, why not start today? Become a mentor. Write a blog for your mother. Give your dad the URL to your favorite site (and explain to him that it’s okay to sign-up, his identity will not be stolen).

It’s time the knowledge-gapped step up to the plate and risk some pride. The only way to fill your gaps is to show your ignorance. Your questions will be dumb. Your speech will be clumsy. Brace yourselves for some good humored mocking. Who can resist a good laugh? It’s at the core of America’s greatness.

Definition:
Knowledge-Gapped: possessing bits and pieces of knowledge along with an inability (or reluctance) to articulate said knowledge due to mistake laden, heavily accented, and/or clumsy speech.