Are you an accidental expert?


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This morning I re-watched one of my favorite films, Countryman. Although I’ve seen this movie 100 times, a scene from the movie captivated me like never before. The irony and coincidental nature of why I randomly decided to watch this film after yesterday’s events still puzzles me, but I’ll explain that later… In the following scene, a poor island fisherman speaks to an American couple on vacation:

“If I say to you brother, go to the best university in the West and speak to the wisest man there and find out all there is to know about engineering… And I say to you sister, go into the swamp, into the sea, down into the earth and learn all there is to know from the creatures you see there and from the sun and from the stars… Eventually brother, you will say that you can make a rocket that will take you to the moon. And don’t you think sister, that you could call for lightening to blow his rocket out of the sky?” The sister asks, “I can make lightening? How?” He replies, “First, you have to have that intention.”

It couldn’t be that simple, right?

The scene made me wonder… If I spent my time learning, experiencing and applying one subject or concept would I eventually become an expert on it? Do I need degrees, certifications, and awards to make me an expert or is it just based on the knowledge I chose to obtain? This line of thinking lead me to my next question. What am I spending my time becoming an expert in?

Here’s the irony… yesterday a popular website WorldStarHipHop temporarily went down and the Twitter world went nuts. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this site… think of Youtube’s format but all the videos are hip hop, street fights, pure ignorance and/or degradation. Admittedly, I’ve spent a lunch hour or two perusing the site and mindlessly enjoying the mindlessness of others but that furthers my point. If I spend my time on that site or similar ones that do not enhance my life in any way will I become an expert on ignorance? What are the opportunity costs associated with spending my time on mindless pleasures and indulgences?

So… what do I want to be an expert in? With free libraries, online and physical bookstores, documentaries and the vastness of the internet isn’t it quite possible to become an expert in any field imaginable? The question is almost as difficult as answering, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” but not quite. We can all easily become an expert on our family and friends. It seems commonplace to know more about a celebrity’s personal life than one’s own family history or the current events of our loved ones. It might be a good place to start.

Are you an accidental expert? What do you spend your free time learning about?

9 Replies to “Are you an accidental expert?”

  1. Jackie Z says:

    I don’t think one can be considered an expert for spending all day looking at trash, gossip shows and websites because an expert is defined as: person with special knowledge or ability who performs skillfully in a field.
    It is however a waste of time; maybe short lived entertainment or a way to make one feel better about themselves when they look at that craziness going on in others life; a reason to judge or put down but how does it make you be better or enlighten you or those around you?
    Sometimes I feel like these things are made to distract and sabatoge minds from looking within themselves and applying themselves to their own greatness. To be great or to be an expert takes apply yourself. It saddens me to think that the sabotage might actually be working by the amount of hits these sites get. As you tito, I have visit these sites but spending everyday on them..I just couldn’t do it.

  2. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by AkaTito, AkaTito. AkaTito said: New Post: Are you an accidental expert? […]

  3. Bird says:

    First and foremost, I really enjoyed reading and contemplating this post. That being said, Jackie, I beg to differ with your statements. Operationally defined, an expert IS a person with special knowledge or ability who performs skillfully in a field. It does not specify which field(s) or the degree to which that skill is used. We automatically connotate the definition with academia and the like. The person who created WSHH is operationally defined as an expert. That person posessed special knowledge or ability with regard to entertainment, trashy coon-like entertainment, but entertainment nonetheless. They were able to maintain a venue that consistently received millions of hits on the worldwide web.

    How is this different from the guy (expert) who created the technology behind the iphone or the guy who invented the artificial heart? Both of these people would be considered experts in their respective fields (computer engineering and cardiology). Regardless of the realm, I feel that everyone deserves to be an expert at something. To have knowledge and skill in a particular area does wonders for a person’s self efficacy, and maybe their bank account as well.

    I love the topic of this post because it revisits the innate question of “who am I?” More importantly, it also makes you think about what you know and the things that you choose to know. There is a guy somewhere that can fix anything that may be wrong with a car’s engine, yet he cannot read above a third-grade level. The field is not important, the knowledge is. Go for it… an expert.

  4. Jackie Z. says:

    @bird, I think you misinterpreted what I was talking about. I am not talking about the people that created these sites. I am talking about people that don’t do anything but visit the sites. What skills are they gaining by looking over gossip sites and trash media?

  5. JR Reid says:

    You can become an expert in anything that matters to you. Based on the example provided by Miss Jackie, if you peruse Bossip, WorldStar HipHop, MediaTakeout, Necole Bitchie, it may be relevant to your subject area if you are in PR, marketing or advertising. Ad/ marketing space if you are looking to target a certain demographic for product launches etc, PR to insert celebrities, whether they come from professional sports or entertainment, etc. If you establish and build relationship with these outlets, you become an expert at building strategic relationships in one capacity or another. These sites bring in millions of dollars as well and as the social media space grows they will continue to flourish until someone else knocks them out of that spot.

    I agree/like your post Bird.

  6. Jackie Z. says:

    I guess everyone was so caught up in their own intellectual answer to even understand the question asked. Its one thing to see how you can make money by the crap and it is another thing to sit around watching it and doing nothing.. Am I wrong in how I am understand the question asked, Tito?

  7. Aka Tito says:

    The point of this post was for inspiration, awareness and self-evaluation. I simply wanted my readers to understand the limitless possibilities in their lives and be aware of the obstacles hiding in plain sight. When I mentioned, certain things I wasted my time on, I was only talking about what I perceived as wastes of MY TIME. I offered a suggestion of being an expert on your family and friends as a possible fulfilling and worthwhile path but I am in no way condemning the intentional path that others choose.

  8. JR Reid says:

    To each its own, no answer is a right answer including your’s or mine. Just sharing thoughts in a open forum. Absolutely was not trying to attack your response Miss Jackie. FYI people all over the world are experts in tons of areas that may not make sense to some and may seem genius to others.

  9. Aka Tito says:

    I didn’t write this in the blog because I couldn’t find the number at the time… It takes 10,000 hours to become an expert at something. Start tracking how you spend your time? What are you becoming an expert in?

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