Wordwright Wednesday – Ultracrepidarian

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One who is presumptuous and offers advice or opinions beyond one’s sphere of knowledge….  Ultracrepidarian 

Oh I love the way today’s lost word not only rolls so nicely off the tongue but it is one of the lost words which was used in the 1800’s but is quite appropriate for the drastic times we find ourselves in.  The latin phrase “ultra crepidam” means “beyond the sole” and the word is said to have come from a story about a cobbler commenting on the way the Greek painter Apelles had painted a foot.  Apelles told the cobbler that he shouldn’t presume to judge above his station, hence, an ultracrepidarian is, like the cobbler, someone who goes beyond the sole, offering advice on matters they are not qualified in.

I’m seeing so much unqualified garbage being spread on social media about Covid-19 virus right now, and to be honest, it’s doing my head in.  An Ultracrepidarian is someone who offers opinions beyond their sphere of knowledge..  Well the Ultracrepidarians seemed to have taken over the internet in plague proportions.  And their plague fills me with more despair for the human race, than Covid-19 ever could.

These are hard times all around the world.  We’ve never seen anything  quite like this in our lifetime.  But with decent government, common sense and human kindness, we should be able to do this, right??  Hmmm, okay.. That seems to be where the issues start.  We are seeing governments around the world reacting, generally too slowly to this.  We’re seeing a lack of common sense, and a “me, me, me” society rearing it’s ugly head.

Our government here in Australia was told by scientists (those they hadn’t yet sacked) that we needed to close our borders back in November, then again in December, January and February.. Uh oh.. They didn’t act because they didn’t want to hurt the economy.. Well, it’s taking a bit of a beating now, so I think perhaps that stitch in time back then would have saved more than nine.  It would have saved lives, jobs and the economy. They are not to blame for this virus, definitely… But they are to blame for not taking it seriously when there was time to stop it spreading.

Common sense?  Well it’s not quite so common anymore, is it?  I’ve often spoken about the dumbing down of our society and this has never been so evident as it is right now.  Let’s all sew masks and give them to hospitals?  Ummm.. no, let’s not.  What we need to do instead is make sure all hospitals have sufficient supply of HOSPITAL/INFECTION GRADE MASKS to protect our angels in the medical professions,  just as our firefighters needed proper masks during the recent bushfires.  And no matter how many times it is explained to people that a mask made of cotton material is not going to contain the tiny droplets that are spreading the disease, Ultracrepidarians will still  tell us that they know this will work and all their reasons why and even share the patterns with us. 

Human kindness?  Again, I’m seeing the best and the worst during this pandemic.  So much kindness, thoughtfulness and selflessness is spreading through our communities.  I’m choosing to see those heroes again, rather than the doomsday apocalyptic zombies who have raided the supermarkets, chemists and white-goods stores of toilet paper, hand sanitisers, MASKS THAT WORK, gloves, Ventolin and freezers as well as anything else they’ve heard might run out.. And where did they hear about it’s scarcity?  ON SOCIAL MEDIA!

Goldilocks syndrome on social media means that I’ve heard that we’re over reacting, under reacting and just right reacting.   And everyone is adamant that they know for sure because they read it or heard it from a friend of a friend of a friend, who they actually have no real knowledge of.  Possibly because that friends, friends, friend is actually some anonymous troll without a life who decided that the next rumour would set the Chicken Little’s all running around screaming that the sky is falling in.

Dear Ultracrepidarians of the world, please understand that your knowledge-less theories portrayed as absolute truths are more dangerous than Covid-19 ever could be.  People are crying out for some guidance in this unprecedented time and for every truth they read, it is being confused by 100 pieces of absolute garbage that you are spreading. Your “over reaction” theories are making people complacent and we can’t afford complacency.  Your “under reaction” theories portraying the end of the world doomsday theories are terrifying people resulting in panic buying, anxiety and depression.  Even your “Just right” theories are making us pat ourselves on the back for our good work.  None of these are helpful right now. We just want truth.

We need to listen to REAL experts whose knowledge is based in their field of expertise and fact.  We need to show kindness to everyone, especially those most vulnerable in our society.  We need to calm down and try to make the most of what we are dealing with.  Over the next few weeks (at the very least) people will be affected in all sorts of ways.  The saddest of these for me is those grieving the loss of a loved one with the knowledge that they are limited to 10 people at the funeral.  This will directly affect my family and friends with a family member’s passing this week, as well as the loss of the daughter of a friend of mine.  Limiting numbers is something we shouldn’t have to consider at a celebration of someone’s life and yet they are facing just that.  That, my friends, will have a longer lasting impact on their families than whether we ran out of toilet paper.

Let’s just hunker down and do what we have to do without all the nonsense.. This too will pass and a year down the track we’ll have forgotten a lot of the issues that we now think are so bad.  So, if you are one of the Ultracrepidarians who are spreading your “knowledge” far and wide, please, please, please be quiet for a while and let the truth get a word in.  Our world is relying on that truth right now.

Happy Hunkering… Livvy xxx

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