“I don’t want to have my awareness raised, thanks,” Frank Furedi writes at Spiked, deconstructing one of the most annoying pieces of psychobabble to enter the pop culture vocabulary. “Hands up if you’re fed up of experts thinking they’re more ‘aware’ than us plebs:”
Awareness-raisers don’t simply express contempt for the customs, attitudes and behaviours they wish to eliminate; they’re also contemptuous of the people who cleave to those customs and attitudes. The impulse of paternalism and snobbery lurks under the surface of the awareness-raising enterprise.
It’s far from evident who anointed these individuals as awareness-raisers. There’s now a veritable army of professionals and experts who assume they possess the authority to instruct people how to conduct their everyday affairs and personal relationships. The corollary of their expert knowledge is the public’s ignorance. Consequently, the relationship between these experts and ordinary people is not unlike that between an adult and a child. And since it is not a relationship of equals, the issues under consideration are not susceptible to any meaningful democratic dialogue. The phrase ‘they just don’t get it’ is used by awareness-raising types to express their frustration with the intellectual deficits of their target audience.
Whenever the phrase ‘they just don’t get it’ makes an appearance, it’s a signal for closing down discussion. What’s the point of arguing with climate sceptics who reject The Science? They just don’t get it! It’s pointless to debate with someone who questions awareness itself – that is, the awareness advocate’s version of reality. They just don’t get it!
The most important word in the phrase ‘they just don’t get it’ is ‘they’. This word highlights what is most significant about the practise of awareness-raising, which is the drawing of a moral contrast between them and us. Although the word ‘us’ is left unsaid, the sentence ‘they just don’t get it’ provides a signal through which those who claim to possess awareness can recognise one another. It implies a shared view of the world that is based on mutual comprehension and intelligence. It’s a highly charged phrase; it sends a message to allies which says that, unlike those incorrigible deadbeats, ‘we’ are really aware of the issues at stake.
Read the whole thing. If only to raise your awareness about those who wish to raise your awareness.