Hi, if you don't mind could you explain what that means because I'm lost, also what trend where you talking about here: "me, being kicked out of school for plagiarism: um you’re not entitled to my emotional labor? find the sources yourself"
um, you’re not entitled to my emotional labour.
No, I’m joking, of course I will explain.
This is a joke about an exchange you might see rattling around tumblr, usually in regards to social justice topics. Someone will ask for an explanation of or clarification on a topic, or advice on how to handle something and they’ll just be told to “educate themselves”, and sometimes told directly that asking is demanding emotional labour of minorities.
(in case you’ve not run across the term, emotional labour originated in describing the extra emotional theatre service workers are expected to perform for customers, but nowdays gets used more broadly to demands for emotional support and processing and free domestic and similar labour which is disproportionately demanded of women and other minorities).
So the joke is about the differing epistemological standards between Tumblr, where that’s appropriate and academia, where you’d actually be punished because you are, quite legitimately, expected to back up your statements.
And the reason that I reblogged it specifically in the meanest way possible is that I do not like the concept of “just educate yourself”. I really, really do not.
This is an idea that comes from a lot of good places, which is what I’m going to start with. But it also gets used in a lot of ways I find at best deeply suspect and at worst fairly toxic, which is why I was reblogging the joke in my nastiest voice.
1. I do think that if you’re going to ask someone for advice directly the polite thing to do is to exhaust your own resources first. The idea that Dr. Google should be your first stop is a good one and I don’t want to bash on it.
2. A lot of this arises from people who get deluged with questions, often invasive, and often repeatedly exerting the right to take a break. AND THAT’S DEFINITELY AWESOME. No one should be compelled to do activism. When someone says “hey can you answer my question” unless you’re actually being paid to educate them, “no” is definitely an excellent and reasonable answer. And if someone tells you their not doing the question answering thing, the only polite option is to gracefully go ask someone else.
3. Some people get tremendously picky about how other people offer them free time and effort and the call to educate yourself comes, in part from people who’ve been offered summaries and curated reading lists and demanded, instead, private lessons. Which is just bloody rude.
BUT, even though “go away and educate yourself” is a totally reasonable idea in many circumstances, as I’ve listed, there are some really icky ways I see some of this getting used.
1. I find the idea that dropping an ask in someone’s open ask box is a “demand” very suspect. Its certainly a request, but there’s no force associated with it. If I’d decided not to answer this, for instance, I could simply delete it. If I kept getting too many asks I could even close my ask box, or turn off anon. You can’t compel me to answer your ask. You can’t punish me for not doing it. (I am perfectly happy to answer this, fyi). Now, the nature of Tumblr means that searching is very hard and its easy to end up deluged with the same basic question over and over. I’m not an education blog, I get few asks and I’ve still been asked what image captions are for 5-6 times. So I get that it can be very frustrating… but its still not a demand.
2. It often seems to carry the idea that finding information is a lot easier than it actually is. Really basic information can be readily googled. But there’s huge amounts of ideas I’ve encountered during fandom conversations, or just floating through tumblr threads, or on ask blogs that I have LITERALLY been unable to find via google, even after a good few hours looking, and that’s for information that I already know. I don’t think this is malicious a lot of the time. When you’re an expert its very easy to loose track of what is and isn’t easy to find for a non-expert. But its still pretty brutal to exhaust your google-skills, go ask something and be told in so many words to “just google it stupid”.
These two aren’t so bad, they’re mostly just a case of conflicting experiences and that happens. But.
3. Even though “go do it yourself” is a great thing to say if you’re looking to avoid activism (and I’ll reiterate I think that’s everyone’s right and you should never feel bad for saying ‘no I’m done/not doing this’ about activism, God knows I do it enough) I see it being used as activism instead. And it gives me a case of the nopes. Because the person who does the educating sets the curriculum. And when you say “go educate yourself” you’re rolling the dice on if the person who does educate them is on your side or not. Especially because it is virtually impossible to fact-check something you’re unfamiliar with. There’s also often a HUGE effort imbalance. Like, sure, it takes me some effort to dig up my “here’s why image captions are a thing” post. And it took me a bit of effort to write it in the first place, but It would probably take the asker a lot longer to google it all up. And that’s a pretty simple topic. I’ve asked activist friends for reading lists before and realistically getting 20-30min help from them has saved me probably 2-3 hours. And the information quality is better on top of that.
4. While this doesn’t happen a huge amount, I see this sometimes attached to very complex issues, or or topics where opinions are very diverse and then it, quite frankly, creeps me out a bit. Because when I see “just educate yourself omg” attached to a post with a strong opinion element, even though it might not be intentional, I cannot help but perceive an undercurrent of “if you were truly educated you’d agree with me” and “how dare you ask for sources, don’t question me, just shut up and do as I say”… and those… those are not good dynamics.