What’s Commonly Known Often Isn’t

I lead a fairly open life, when it comes to how much I let people know about what’s going on. Sometimes, I feel like I probably share way too much. Certainly I feel now and then like I go on about my writing too much. I’ll have a bit of book news to share, and I debate even bringing it up.

“I just posted about writing the other day. No one wants to hear about it again so soon.”

And yet I still run into people on a fairly regular basis who are surprised to hear I write, and they have questions about what it is exactly I write. Is it for children? What’s it about? Who published it? How often do you write each week? Things I just sort of assume everyone knows at this point, because I’ve written about it all so often.

Except of course they wouldn’t know. I post about it on my blog. I share that to Facebook, and maybe Facebook deigns to have it appear in someone’s newsfeed. Even if it does, there’s no guarantee people will actually see it. I’m on Facebook a fair bit, after all, and there’s often news that sails past me.

And really, this post isn’t to comment about my writing at all. It’s to say that if something I talk about so often can still fly under the radar for people who know me fairly well, how much else goes unseen about any number of topics?

We each have things that are important to us. We read about them at length. We follow the news when it comes out. And we talk about them with some of our friends at length. It can become easy to assume the things we follow closely are things everyone else follows as well. How could they not? We see it everywhere.

Except I think of the sensation I have when I learn a new word. “Copacetic” was a good example. I could have sworn I’d never heard that word in my life before a coworker used it a few years ago. I asked what it meant, and she seemed surprised anyone wouldn’t know it. (It means “in excellent order,” if you were wondering.) I told her I didn’t think anyone else used that word at all, but then I started hearing it crop up in people’s vocabulary off and on.

Either it was a huge conspiracy, and everyone decided to start using “copacetic” that one day and from then on, or else everyone had been using it all along, and I just hadn’t been tuned into it. Something tells me it was the latter, as much as I might wish it were the former.

So try to remember that when someone isn’t quite as informed as you assume they ought to be. Often it’s not a sign of ignorance. It’s just a symptom of too much information overwhelming us, all the time.


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