The disconnect between the people and the academe

Recently, there’s this new movie by M. Night Shyamalan called Split (2017). You can check out the trailer here. The antagonist is basically a guy who has many personalities or in more clinical terms, Dissociative Identity Disorder (DID) or as it was previously known, Multiple Personality Disorder (MPD).

Judging from the trailer, the guy who kidnapped them has 23 whopping personalities. A woman who has a masters degree in psychology even vouches that this is something extraordinary indeed. This man terrorizes the three girls.

Being a psychology major, most of my Facebook newsfeed was dominated by my fellow psych majors arguing adamantly as to why the premise of this movie is misleading and also harmful to those who have DID. They all had good points.

The movie is categorized into horror. Mental illness is a terrible thing to experience (see my depression post here) and depicting it in an even more negative light in media will make it harder for those who experience it everyday to actually be more open about their illness. Why is it that mental illnesses are shown as “scary” where as more physical illnesses are depicted as tragic?

However, while I agreed with my friends’ arguments, they started talking about how they wished people would read up more on mental illnesses. Look at diagnostic tools, read books about it, etc.

See, this is where the disconnect between the people and the academe occur. Whereas, the academe’s number one priority is learning, studying, and researching the world around us, the people’s number one priority is to keep on.

In the academe’s perspective, everyone has the resources to learn more. Everyone has the time to learn something new. When you’re in a university, you’re easily informed of new things, new perspectives, and new issues that come up every now and then. When you’re in the office five days a week, doing chores, paying bills, struggling through traffic, making sure ends meet, and focusing on your own realities and issues, it’s kind of hard to look study something that you’re pretty sure isn’t going to affect you.

Is it apathy? It’s easy to mistake it as that but it’s not. I don’t think it is. I think it’s simply people trying to look out for themselves. It’s funny. Politics divides people. Families with huge generation gaps fight over Trump, Duterte, or gay rights. Before I went to college, before I was aware of any issues that the government needed to address, we didn’t fight about it.

It’s just that when I was introduced to the academe, I was introduced to the reality of studying everything and learning so much about what’s wrong with the universe and how little the amount of good that comes out. My reality changed but my conservative relatives’ reality didn’t change at all.

They still had to deal with the horrible traffic, dangerous streets, high taxes, constant flooding problem, or even making ends meet. I still argued that they should listen to me and understand why LGBT rights is important or why drug addicts shouldn’t be killed.

Of course, they all take it with a grain of salt. Why should they listen to me? I didn’t even hold a proper job yet. I didn’t understand how the world works. I knew of their struggles but I didn’t have to deal with it. For a few moments, I hated going to family meetings only to be tuned out.

However, nothing changed. Literally no one changed except me. I just became more aware, I just learned about these issues. Everyone was still nice, everyone still cared for each other. If someone in the family fell ill, everyone pitches in to help. My titas and titos would be right there if I needed anything.

It wasn’t that they were apathetic. It just wasn’t part of their reality. But if it were part of their reality, they would surely make time for it and learn more about it.

See, the disconnect between the academe and the people isn’t simply miscommunication. It’s that the academe is so disconnected from the people to the point that they are kind of outsiders to the reality that people live in. That’s why the academe can point out all the flaws and errors of the world.

It’s like when you’re watching an old video of yourself. You don’t recall having so much hand movement. You can point out your errors. It’s because it’s not you.

The best solution is to honestly find a way to get the people to learn about issues in an easier manner.

No one is going to read thick and heavy books about capitalism when children need feeding. No one is going to be browsing through an academic journal about the economy when a paywall of $32 is required to see the data.

Studies show that only those heavily involved in the academic world actually read the journals. So meaning those with masters degrees and PhDs. That’s a very small percentage. Here’s a link on a news article saying that 50% of the published articles are only read by the editor, peer review, and the authors themselves.

It’s interesting. I talked to my GrabCar driver today and I asked him if he’s satisfied with Duterte. He was very proud to say that Duterte was his president even before he won. He told me about how he knew so many people who were drug addicts but now were laying low. I listened to him talk about his perspective and he listened to me discuss mine too.

That’s the thing. People are willing to listen. They’re smart. They can think for themselves. All we have to do is find the right medium to deliver the message.




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