Last night I was watching a tv program where a sports writer was analyzing the performance of our local Major League baseball team and giving his predictions about what would happen in the coming weeks with trades and upcoming games. I listened to him with interest (I'm a baseball fan, of course) as to me, his opinion mattered because he was an expert who had experience and access to inside information that as a mere fan, I do not.
What struck me is that when we have an interest in something (whether that's a sports team or anything else) we selectively listen more to those who we feel have knowledge that can benefit us. Last night, the television was background noise, but as soon as content which was meaningful to me came on, I focused in on it. Experts in a field offer not just information, but viewpoints that help form our opinions and shape our decisions.
The internet has fueled a proliferation of people who may be perceived as experts. We give credit to this group of influencers and (whether consciously or unsconsciously) listen to them and trust in them as experts -not because they have credentials, but because they have built sizeable followings on facebook or twitter, call themselves experts and rank high in search engines.
There's a lesson here for me. And, I think a lesson here for us all. What does it take to be an expert and who do you trust?