I just spent the last 2.5 days at a closed-door conference on the MIT campus with some of the greatest innovators and creators I’ve had the honor to meet. I’m not going to disclose any particular names, but I will tell you that the guest list included individuals that I can guarantee you are familiar with - writers and authors, public figures, artists and rappers and movie makers and story tellers. The reason for this collective anonymity isn’t so much for secrecy as it was for modesty: ultimately it doesn’t matter who said what, so long as matters were addressed. It was a way to level the playing field, for the lack of better analogies.
The entire reason we were assembled here - 73 of us in all - was because we all share the common goal of science communication, and it was about time somebody recognized that the task of teaching our fellow humans is not one left to teachers or science writers or the National Geographic or whatever. Science communication seems to be in the hands of creators and content makers in general, and the art of talking about our natural world and all of its functions and byproducts and abstractions is a nauseatingly overwhelming task if left up to a select few. Many times during the last few days did I feel as though my brain completely shut down, and it mostly occurred when we got to talking about this chore of communicating and sharing science when it wasn’t contextualized but instead addressed as an ambiguous phenomenon.
And for a long time I couldn’t figure out why I was there or why I was being asked to speak. I’m not a scientist (a point both affirmed and denied throughout our lengthy discussions). I’m not well experienced with what I do, having been on YouTube only nine months and at The Field since July. My following is incredibly loyal and supportive, but comparably not large in number if you’re looking at how many people are now wondering what does the fox say?
But what it came down to for me is that I love what I do. I don’t need to sift through abstract thought to try and justify that point or infer deeper meaning in something that is otherwise obvious and simple. Sitting in that room I felt very naive, but also grateful that I hadn’t already spent years of my life mulling over this, like running your tongue over a never healing sore in your mouth.
When it comes down to finding a point I ultimately don’t think it’s important to know why what I have been doing is or isn’t effective. Personally it’s more important for me to realize that there are so many other mediums in which to talk about science other than the obvious books or lectures or even video. And these mediums and projects and ideas for expression are not exclusive to science - they can easily be translatable to talking about art, history, literature.
So I don’t need to know why you watch what you do, or why you’re interested in science, and I don’t need the concept of a scientist to be defined. I don’t think that adds the amount of value to the discussion that we are looking for. But what I do need is for you to never forget to be awesome and for you to continue to help decrease world suck, because that is how we get things done.
Emily Graslie. She gets it.
Also, now I have the stupid song, yet again, back in my head.