Wanted: Internet Expert | Robb Sutton

I have been thinking about something a lot lately that is nothing new…it just seems to get worse and worse with time.

As the internet becomes more social and less of a resource, we are seeing the emergence of more “internet experts”. Whether it be bloggers writing about subjects they have no experience in or friends on your friendly Facebook wall turning into a heated political debate, the social internet has now given people the ability to say things online that they would never say in person…at least not with the grander and force they do digitally.

We are now in an age where everyone sees themselves as an expert in a specific field because of their ability to research their passion through their favorite sources. This creates a certain amount of hostility online as these “experts” butt heads over what they feel is right. But…just like the experts that think they are right…the sources they quote can be just as biased and misled.

Another example…

As many of you know, we had our first kid last month. I am sure we are going through the same thing most new parents do…the ultimate search for the perfect way to raise your kid. In the pursuit of perfect information, we scour the web and books looking for the “expert” to tell us how things are done and what we need to do next. However, what we find is that no one is on the same page on anything! They can sooth themselves at a month…no wait…not until a year…6 months…3 months…can’t all of you guys just get on the same page?!

This has brought me to the underlying conclusion that you can find whatever you want to read at the time.

  • Are you having a hard time getting your kid to sleep? Then the book that said one month must be wrong and the 6 month one must be right…because that is my experience. (ours is down for the count at one month…and we are grateful for it!!)
  • Do you feel like you lean more to the conservative side of politics? More liberal? You are going to read the sources that you connect with.
  • Have friends on Facebook that are saying what you want to hear? Think you’ll listen to them more than the ones that are saying what you don’t at the time?

Now days…everyone has a voice and the answers online can bring us to a state that we forget to think for ourselves.

Before the age of the internet, we had books and other resources, but the massive volume of information was not present. Now…before we do anything we head to the computer asking The Google what to do next. We forget to stop, think and assess the situation. We completely forgo our gut instincts to trust people we don’t know or ones with zero experience in the specified field.

The internet does a lot of amazing things for our daily lives, but our trust in self proclaimed experts that arose from the ease of publication of information has brought many people to a state that they no longer adapt and think for themselves. They don’t question what they read or try to adapt and change information to fit their lives. Objectivity is going away as blind faith in information is taking over.

It as almost as if the internet put up a wanted ad for experts in fields that have zero ability to talk about things rationally.

While this article might seem like a rant (and it is in someways), it is more about challenging you to question and actually think about what you read online (including things I write and say). There is no right answer for everyone. Everything in life needs to be thought out and interpreted as your life is not the exact same as your neighbors.

That said…we have to be willing to make mistakes and learn from those mistakes. I do believe a lot of the trust we give to people that are providing the answers we want to hear stems from not wanting to mess up. We then have the ability to say someone else was wrong if it doesn’t go right, or we can then take credit if it works and push that same ideal on others. Some of the greatest rewards in life come out of what we learn from the mistakes we make. We can not let that fear run how we make decisions.

The internet is a great source of information…when used correctly. It is up to you how you process the information on the screen whether it is from a friend or an article on a website written by someone you don’t even know. How are you going to adapt as information overload continues to expand in our lives?