Before you get your panties in a twist, this isn’t really a political post. Those are very rare to come from me, mainly because politics polarizes us like nothing else, and leaves a horrific taste in my mouth. I see way too much of it on social media, and choose not to contribute to the chaos.
No, I’m pointing out…EXPERTISE!
It started with sports, but you had to work for it. The devoted fan learned every stat there was to know, and sucked up numbers like there was no tomorrow. They may not know how much to tip on a restaurant check, but damn, they can tell you any player’s RBIs, or the score differential in every Super Bowl back to 1971, or how many managers have touched the Stanley Cup.
Then along comes both reality TV and the internet, and now, we’re all masters. Pick a topic, and its fanatical master is somewhere among your friends. A few hours of Paranormal Telly…oops, I mean Travel Channel…and now ALL of us can decipher those pesky EVPs. Yes, I listened a few times, it’s a male voice, saying “help me please”. Or is it “too much cheese”? Or is it a ghostly dog complaining of fleas? You can actually get EMF detectors on Amazon (handy for finding electrical issues in the home, too).
A little Jackson Galaxy and we’re all cat experts. Well, ok, maybe Jackson’s not to blame for that. But I’m in a black cat group on Facebook, mainly to look at pictures of my favorite kinds of kitties, and…yeah, stick to looking at pictures, because stopping to read most of the posts is an exercise in hair-pulling. Any given post starts with the simplest question, and quickly devolves into the “go to the vet why are you asking the internet” vs “I have 36 cats and I am telling you the problem is he needs a friend, get another cat”. The squirt bottle is bad. The squirt bottle is good. Use double-back tape to make your cat stop scratching. No, you ass, if you love your cat, you’ll let him scratch whatever he wants. Don’t let your cat out. Yes, let him out, into the condo you’ve built.
Yeah, the things we do for furry love.
Then Food Network. Hey, I can’t knock it. I’ve learned a lot from there, and I use it. But for the love of Pete, suddenly everyone and their brother are food critics, and every sentence is either “this protein is cooked perfectly”, or “needs more acid”. Fine. Ten points if you can explain why it needs more acid, and what exactly is acid. Hydrochloric? Sure, some is legit, but some is also opinion. A professional chef judge can tear a dish apart because the protein is undercooked, but myself, and a few other people I know, will eat rare steak, even blue, in a heartbeat. I like pasta al dente, to others, it may underdone. Yes, I salt the water, and no, I don’t break it. Oh, wait….I’m Italian, so I didn’t need Scott Conant to tell me any of that. Also, watching Gordon Ramsey spew f-bombs all the livelong day, and Robert Irvine spit out food while looking like a dyspeptic turtle do nothing to increase my food knowledge.
The internet does the same thing. It’s good that so much knowledge is at our fingertips. It’s also bad that so much knowledge is at our fingertips. Not everything on the intrawebz is true, kids. You have to work at it. Investigate. Sometimes as careful as you may be, you may read too much on a topic, and (it happens to me too, I’m not being accusatory) little bits of article A stick with you, and a paragraph from article B, but then there’s one factoid from article C that really caught your eye. You go to post, or comment, and suddenly, you aren’t accurate, either, because your brain has jumbled all those bits together. It’s like the old game of passing along a story, and seeing how it changes after it’s gone thru fifteen or twenty people.
Now we’re all experts on viruses, and the flu, and what masks do. But I’m not pursuing that any further, because over the past few days, some of what I’ve read has aggravated me to no end. I’m just pointing up that exposure to info does not make us experts. If we’re lucky, it does educate us, but we still have to sort truth from semi-truth from fiction from propaganda from flat-out lies. Spit out the undercooked protein (IT’S RAW, YOU DONKEY!). Debunk, debunk, debunk (not an orb, it’s a moth, it has fuzzy antenna). Save the sports stats for trivia night (I have a hatred for numbers in general, but percentages give me aneurysms).
If you want to be an expert, put the work into it, and look beyond the internet and cable channels.