We live in the age of social media. Devouring (and more often than not parroting) an avalanche of information, both good and bad. We have an opinion on everything. We consume reality programming and situational content with more ease than we usually drink water. And we seem to believe anything that pops up on our screens, without ever questioning the credibility of the source, the logic behind what is dished out to us. We have become mindless drones.
For a world with so many drones, however, there seem to be a lot of experts. Well, “drone experts” I would say. Individuals with an opinion and “expertise” on everything. From politics, to music, fashion, health, relationships, film, education, social affairs. You name it! And the prevalence of social media makes it so easy to broadcast this expertise to the world.
Now, I am not saying that having an opinion is a bad thing. It is actually a very good thing. As long as it is an informed opinion. Simply dishing out an opinion without any justification behind it – worse still saying I heard from somewhere – is perhaps just as bad as gossip. But hey, gossip is to be demonised, right (forget about all those TV shows predicated on the concept of gossip)? An opinion – again, the informed kind – is the basis of democracy. So, go for it. Have an opinion. Express it. It is your right (in most of the world). Just back it up with some sort of reasoning, right or wrong. And be open to an opposing opinion – you never know when you’ll be wrong.
That’s half the story. Now, let’s talk about the “experts.” The people that believe that simply because they have the most accessible and largest source of information in human history at their disposal – the internet – or watch reality TV (singing/fashion/cooking competitions or the like), or even a cool drama (any of the CSI’s, or House, or… the list is endless) are suddenly experts in a field that until recently they had no interaction with. Really, try starting a conversation with any of the above, or even more than one, with anyone. They’ll be a master chef, Grammy-winning singer, forensic scientist, nuclear physicist.
So, please consider these two rules of thumb.
- The internet is full of crap information. Heck, my blog could be classified as useless information. But at least I don’t claim to be an expert. On anything. Even the things I have studied (Computer Science, International Relations, Policy, Diplomacy, and then some Architecture for good measure). Always, and I mean ALWAYS, check your sources, look at opposing view (hey, they’re available), process the information in your noggin, and then come to a conclusion.
- As for the TV, it’s ENTERTAINMENT, not an accurate historical account, not a perfect portrayal of the real world. It is amended to fit the purpose of entertainment. Yes, there are educational programmes, but they are often not watched. Because they are not (as) entertaining. Because they don’t have good “actors.”
People had always had unjustified opinions or misguided expertise. It is now much easier to receive false information and broadcast it just the same. At lightning speed.
So, before you offer an opinion, or advice (which could end up harming someone), think about it a bit. Exercise your logic and ask whether you have a reasoning for what you are about to say. Most of all, doubt yourself, ask yourself if you are qualified to be dishing out advice (whether you are, say, a doctor or not, that doesn’t mean you can offer advice on cancer, or diet, or whatever else).
Disclaimer: I am not holier than thou. I have fallen prey to such bad practices as parroting, believing something I see on the internet simply because it fits. I still make those mistakes. But I am trying not to err. Not always successfully, but trying none the less.
Oh, I could go on and on. But let’s leave this rant at this. After all, I am exhausted and might start to make no sense. At least I make sense to me this far.