In A World of Experts
I made the comment on FB how fascinating I found it that so many people think they’re experts just because they have an opinion. To take it one step further it’s even worse when people with opinions dole out advice (based on their opinions) unbidden.
It’s a curious phenomena.
I’ve met the mother with one child who thinks she is an expert in child rearing just because she was able to get her child through the terrible-twos without a hitch. She suddenly becomes judgemental and all-knowing, telling her girlfriend who has had a problem with three of her four children that she isn’t parenting right. I’ve also watched people who don’t have kids try to tell parents how to parent properly. Seriously?
I’ve literally watched alcoholics give other alcoholics advice on getting sober. I’ve heard non-writers tell writers how to write. I’ve met people who really do believe (due to their inability for empathy or to see beyond their own worldview?) that their experience is the only valid experience out there. “Oh, well that’s how it happened to me, so it will be the same for everyone else.”
None of these people take into account that all situations are unique. Your cancer may be different than someone else’s. Your money situation is likely different than your friends’. Your kids are not your friends’ kids. Just because if you had kids you’d raise them one way, doesn’t mean you’re right and the parents who disagree with you are wrong. Not to mention you may actually change your mind once you’re actually a parent or you have more than one. I had one friend who claimed she would never spank her child. And she didn’t with the first two children she had. The third child, however, was so unruly that it actually took spanking (after all other methods had failed) to get him to finally behave. Just an illustration of my point — her opinion changed based on actual experience.
And of course with religion this kind of thinking runs rampant. Just because you found God at your lowest point doesn’t mean everyone has to fall as far to find God. Just because you find church a spiritual place doesn’t mean that everyone will. Just because you call your god(s) by a different name doesn’t mean your understanding of God(s) is better than anyone elses. Just because your religion works for you, doesn’t mean everyone else’s religion is wrong (just wrong for you).
On that note – let’s get to the whole unbidden opinion thing. If someone doesn’t ask for advice or opinions – you can offer with something like “I have had some experience with that if you’re interested…” or “That happened to me once, but in my experience it turned out differently. Would you like to hear more?”, but don’t just spout it! And if you have NO experience with the subject at hand – perhaps you should keep your opinion to yourself? What ever happened to manners? Have we all just gotten brave because of the Internet? And what’s up with those people who think they’re experts just because they read a book written by an expert? Oh – I read Dr. Spock’s manual on child rearing, but I’ve never had kids, but now I’m an expert on child rearing. Or – oh, I read that book about cancer written by the renowned oncologist. Now I’m an expert on cancer even though I’ve never had any experience with cancer. What? Ridiculous.
People both amuse and frighten me at the same time.
This of course goes hand in hand with my rant about Internet psychologists.