These days one doesn’t have to go far to stumble upon experts in just about every possible category. The interesting thing is that for most situations, there really doesn’t seem to be a uniform method to evaluate whether those who label themselves as experts, do in fact possess any quantifiable expertise. Perhaps the current popularity in television’s reality show genre would be the ideal way to sort this out. Expert contestants could be judged on their ability to answer questions, complete tasks and compete against their fellow-experts on complex projects in their area of specialization. Audience members, TV viewers and professional industry judges would vote for their favorite week after week until a finalist is selected. Then once and for all we would be able to differentiate the authentic experts from the posers.
An obvious example where some standardization would be useful is in the social media sector. Because of this growing phenomenon’s continuous evolution, there hasn’t been any notable criterion established to actually measure one’s level of expertise or competence in the field. Not only are there countless social media experts popping up daily, but they all seem to devise their own catchy titles to advertise their brand of expertise. Some of the creative, yet mysterious monikers include social media: guru, maven, strategist, ninja, wizard, high-priestess and miracle-worker. Of course, these names are intentionally vague and give the impression of some special powers that are in high demand.
In fact, the obscure naming strategy seems to be working quite well. If enough of the general population needs to get information, they simply find one of these experts to show them the way. Soon, whether deserved or not, the experts begin to build credibility. Many of them are making a healthy living by offering seminars, webinars, workshops and presentations about their area of expertise. However, like any trend that grows rapidly, there tends to be a bandwagon effect – making it easy for the opportunistic folks or non-experts to join the fray. When this happens it dilutes the public’s ability to decipher solid advice and knowledge from plain old hype.
No one benefits when that occurs and it causes those who have worked hard on their trade to lose momentum. Unfortunately, they end up spending time trying to undo all of the bad publicity generated by the schemers and scammers. Maybe a reality show styled after Donald Trump’s Apprentice would do the trick and solve this dilemma. Or, another type of show modeled after one of dancing or singing talent contests could be interesting entertainment as well.
The premise would be that before someone slaps on a badge staking claim to an entire segment of knowledge they should be able to prove they are worthy of that identity. Until then, anything beyond “my so-called expertise” seems a bit presumptuous.