What is common knowledge?

Who decides what you should know?

I found myself lacking in a few areas this month, which prompted me to try and confirm what material comes under the vast umbrella of the common knowledge category?

For example; At no point during any of my driving lessons did I learn how to fill my petrol tank. It isn’t a requirement for an instructor to teach you this necessity, and to be honest I didn’t even think to ask.

Fast-forward, I’ve passed my driving test and purchased a car. I’m at the petrol station and I realise- I’ve never done this before. I have a basic understanding, I’ve seen people use petrol pumps enough times. But, I’ve also seen and heard many people joking about watching others struggle to ‘get their own petrol cap off’ or having to ‘help this daft woman fill her own car’. (I did spend a summer working in a petrol station. You might be surprised by the amount of times we had to help push a diesel car out of the forecourt because it’s owner had filled the tank with petrol mistakenly.)

You are just sort of expected to know how to perform this task, but why?

Here’s another; My boiler has broken. The plumber is asking me if I have a combi-boiler, as if it’s a simple question. I have no idea? Now I feel silly. I own my house, surely I should know what type of boiler I have? When he arrives the plumber is surprised to find I have a combi-boiler and I have my immersion heater switched on. Unbeknownst to me I have been using gas to heat water at the moment it is required using the combi, as well as using gas to maintain an entire separate tank of hot water throughout set periods of the day. That’s an expensive mistake. I only need to switch the immersion on if my combi-boiler isn’t working. How could I know that? It’s not like buying a house came with a welcome pack of ‘how things work’!

So I ask, what is common knowledge? Who decides what fits under that particular umbrella?

We are not born with knowledge, so why should anyone think it acceptable to poke fun at anything a person has not yet learned?

Is there anything you learned later than everyone around you?

Have you felt the embarrassment of not knowing something labelled as ‘common knowledge’?

Hit me up in the comments.

Author: Roxanne Michelle

Dramatic, curly-haired wannabe writer from a nowhere town in Somerset. Stop-starter of all projects great and small. Here to talk books, film, mental health and lifestyle.

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