My Whole Life Has Been a “Math Girl” Episode
I was reading a story the other day about Gracie Cunningham, also inadvertently known as the ‘Math Girl’ from TikTok. She was dubbed this unwanted title because of a video she posted which shows her haphazardly applying her makeup while getting ready for work. As she does this, she explains to the camera that she questions the origin, or more precisely, the origin of the thought of algebra.
First off, Gracie knew about Pythagoras (which is already more than most people know) and she, in her own way, told us that she (sort-of) knew the ‘who’ and ‘when’, but she questioned the ‘why’. She wondered why someone would feel the need to come up with complex math in the first place, waaaaay back in the day.
Rude folks began calling her ‘dumb’ and dismissed her musings as nothing more than insignificant ramblings from a young blonde teenager.
I’ve never been on TikTok, or Instagram, or Twitter, so most times I don’t much know about what’s happening in viral current social media events. I don’t watch the news, either. So, really, the only way I find out about any current hot commodities or topics is by reading about them on Medium, and that’s only when or if they make their way into my feed.
That’s just what happened here. There was a story that was pushed through to my ‘daily reads’ pile, and it looked like an interesting read about something with which I wasn’t familiar. I read the story, which included a link to the original TikTok video. It was my first time seeing Gracie’s viral ‘Math Girl’ video, and my take away from it was pretty much concurring with the article author’s thoughts on the subject. I was ticked that people were talking shit both to and about this little girl… and all simply because she voiced her wonder and curiosity.
Questioning and wondering about life (and, even better, about history) should be encouraged, not ripped apart.
Why do people feel the need to rag on a total stranger in the first place? Does it make them feel better? Have they nothing better to do? That’s a subject for another day, I suppose.
Initially, a hater re-posted Gracie’s video, captioning it as “the dumbest video” they’d ever seen, and that’s what made the whole thing explode in the first place. People from everywhere started to defend Gracie after she initially received so much trash-talk and ridicule for asking her so-called ‘dumb’ questions.
Much of the defense came from the fact that Gracie’s questions were something many distinguished scholars have wondered about in the past.
One man even posted a tweet saying he didn’t think Gracie’s video was dumb at all, and he wanted to ‘test a theory’. He posted a video where he recites the transcript from Gracie’s video. By having himself (a middle-aged British male) speak the exact same words as Gracie, he makes a point. What was considered a ‘dumb’ question coming from a cute young blonde girl with a valley-girlish accent, would’ve been viewed as an intellectually sound one had it originally come from him or someone of the like.
People hear what they want.
This all rings a bit familiar to me, personally. This is the kind of stuff I and many others have been dealing with throughout our entire lives. As a young adult, I often would be brushed off or not taken seriously due to the way I looked and spoke. My girls and I were all blondes. I grew up in SoCal with a bunch of skaters, surfers, and headbangers. Our lingo was a tad different and unorthodox. Not to mention, my personal accent is a bit unusual on its own.
Just because my words sometimes come out a bit mashed-up and aren’t always uber-eloquent, doesn’t mean the take-away is without depth or validity. I can make a good point, I just have a hard time getting it out in a way that rings clear to others.
I love learning (especially about history), and honestly, it’s the little side stories that resonate the most with me. I want to know the backstory to the main story. The parts with the inside details. Those are the interesting parts, in my opinion.
It is not wrong to wonder about things. It’s how you find out. I have an inquiring mind. I’m the kind of person who needs not to just know the ‘how’ or ‘when’, but, like Gracie, I also want to know the ‘WHY’.
My entire life has been a ‘Math Girl’ episode.
I’ve always had an immense amount of curiosity in my brain. I can remember as a child, sitting in my room and pondering about random things, in which I’d sometimes ask a grown-up about, and the answer would likely be “I don’t know, Bee, where do you come up with this stuff?” A chuckle usually came along for the ride as well. My questions were brushed off as typical child-like imagination and wonder. But mine didn’t stop as I got older. It continued on and intensified throughout my teens, and as an adult still hasn’t gone anywhere.
I grew up curious about all kinds of things: I wondered where any words came from at all. Who came up with words as a way of communication? Why not slaps? Or stomps? When did words form? Were they just random grunts or noises before they were words?
Who looked at an object, and said “This should be called this”? Who came up with the word ‘object’?
Or the words ‘bad’ and ‘good’? (and I don’t mean where the english version originated from. I’m talking about, where did the original versions even stem from at all?)
Why was the sky called the sky?
Where did the names of colors come from? Why were those particular names chosen?
Why did someone decide to peel the first eaten orange and eat what was inside? Were they afraid of it being poisonous, with it never having been done before?
Why did someone initially think “Hey, maybe smoking this plant will fix things?” What was their original ailment? Was there even an ailment, or did it just seem like a good idea? Was it trial and error with all sorts of plants, or did they start with that specific plant?
You get the picture. I’m sure many of these things can be found out if you dive deep enough into research, or maybe not. People know (around) when things originated, but we don’t know the ‘why’ for much of it, because the ‘why’ wasn’t ever documented.
In her video, Gracie asks if math is real.
Is anything even real? Hasn’t everything we know been made up by someone?
There are many things we as humans still do not know, and there are things we probably never will. Let’s not bash the people like Gracie, who still do have some curiosity and wonder in their life.
It’s an absolutely wonderful trait, limitless in possibilities. It’s how we learn. It’s how we grow.