“What I’m trying to say is that when someone asks you a question, it’s okay to say, “I don’t know.” You can also say that to yourself.”
“Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak and to remove all doubt.”
Abraham Lincoln. Or Mark Twain. I don’t know.
I went and had an informal ‘chat’ about the possibility of some work recently, and when asked what something stood for, I confidently gave completely the wrong answer. I blame it on the guy I was talking to. He was awfully full of himself, so I was mirroring all this posturing and trying to be as confident as he was. It was a waste of time all round because the work didn’t happen. That’s what trying to get into a pissing contest with a stranger gets you. I’d have felt better if I’d just said I didn’t know.
I think the older I get, the less I think I know about anything. There’s a hefty dose of Imposter Syndrome going on there (“I don’t know anything, I suck, I’m going to get caught out and fail horribly”) but overall the not knowing thing is no bad thing if it keeps you curious. If I’m not learning, I’m bored. Saying you don’t know is quite liberating. Gives you a chance to go and find out so you do.
Sometimes I only semi-know stuff. Then it’s also good to go and check, even just because it’s so satisfying to do that “ahhhh, of course” thing.
What’s also awesome is to compare what you don’t know with what other people don’t know. Everyone comes out of it having learnt something.
What I do know is that I never had any less respect for someone who said they didn’t know when asked a question. Except maybe when the question is something like ‘Can I pay with contactless?’ or ‘Should we operate on this subdural haematoma?’.
The more you know, the more you realize how much you don't know. How can you possibly discover anything if you already know everything?
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) June 30, 2014
A lot of people on the Internet don’t know other than what they apparently found out by Googling stuff. Then they share this with other people to try to win arguments, score points or start conversations with celebrities. They’d have just been better off saying they didn’t know but then social media wouldn’t have anything to work with.
Does this all make sense? I don’t know. AND THAT’S FINE.