Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Experts

Everyone who has an opinion is not an expert. There is a distinct difference between critique and review, most especially when it comes to talking about popular media, politics and just about everything.

This is important to remember.

Especially when one is reading commentary. Whether it's a blog post, a letter to the editor, comments on another post or even a GIF on Tumblr it's essential that we all know what is considered informed opinion and what is essentially thought vomit. Critique comes from an informed opinion. Sometimes review does, too but it tends to be much more personal. Commentary is pretty much thought vomit and intensely personal to the exclusion of informed opinion.

The other thing to remember is that an expert, no matter how informed or convincing she may be, doesn't have to reflect your own thinking. It seems that nowadays it's a lot easier to let others do our thinking rather than forming opinions based on a variety of sources. This is what hurts us as a society more than anything: being lazy.

Yes, I'm trying to influence my readers to think but not necessarily in a particular way. I'd much rather that you have your own ideas and discuss them rationally, civilly, with others (or me) and exchange information. That's how we'll progress. That's how we progressed to this point.

This time of year, 'best of' lists are everywhere and they're oftentimes just recycled bits of information from elsewhere on the Internet. It's rare that there's any real assessment of the items on said lists that's new since it came out. It turns out that 'best of' lists are really just 'what I like' lists. The ones I find useful are the ones that have actually experienced the things they're listing and where the lister can talk with authority on the subject.

Right?

And lists in general are really 'what I like' more than anything else despite labels like 'essential' or 'indispensable'. So it's up to us to be more discerning in reading/seeing/hearing and then relaying information.

Let's all be a bit more honest and communicate our personal tastes in more personal ways and sound more like regular folks rather than experts.

If we exchange our ideas we'll share more experience and be stronger as a whole. Anyone who rejects my experience because it's different than his own would be revealed to be closed-minded. Maybe not as an absolute, but in that case. Again, not an expert here, but that makes sense to me.

Then we could confront that problem head-on. Accept that everyone's experience is slightly different based on any number of factors. There are no absolutes in a world of diversity. While they're comforting, they're also limiting. If you think about it, you know this is true.

As you read and share 'best of' lists that appeal to you, be prepared to discuss them with others. Exchange your considered thoughts and opinions with others who have other experiences. Learn from them, add them into your frame of reference and hope that the other person will do the same.

That would be the greatest gift, wouldn't it? To expand one's horizon.

It doesn't take an expert to do that, either.