Here’s a secret: nobody knows anything about anything. Not even your mom. I know, it’s shocking. It’s okay to take a moment, have some chamomile tea and a scone, and process. You good? Okay, let’s press on.
Take any topic. Your personal experience of that topic is filtered through your own biases and selective experience. Maybe you read something about it, or saw something on TV, or your dog started talking to you. These are just more filtered accounts. Someone else might have a completely different perspective that contradicts yours. Their perspective is based on their own experiences, their own reading and interactions with others. Are they wrong, though?
Yes. They are wrong. The key to being an expert has nothing to do with actual knowledge or experience with a particular topic. It has to do with four things:
- Keeping them wanting more.
Let’s talk about Bravado. See that cheap joke up above there? Not only did we make it, but now we’re acting like it’s some profound life lesson by discussing it. AND YOU’RE STILL READING. We will sleep like babies, tonight, believe us. That’s Bravado in action, friends. Some people will say people are stupid without realizing they’ve just insulted themselves, but that’s not why Bravado works.
True fact: life is ridiculously, pants-shittingly hard. It’s so hard, unicorns chose not to even exist, no matter how much we try to bribe them. Everybody you meet, every single person, would rather be in bed. They don’t want to be doing whatever it is they’re doing. If you step up and act like you know how to do whatever it is and make a passable show of demonstrating this, they’ll most likely go along with it. That way, they can continue focusing on the countdown in their heads until they can go back to bed.
Armed with this new knowledge (see how we’re pretending you didn’t already know this and it’s somehow this profound revelation? Our own bravado is really quite astounding) you can do one of two things:
- You can mock the weakness of humanity. However, this is a dick move employed by people who think they’re clever but don’t realize that it won’t get them any closer to going back to bed.
- You can give up and go home. That works until rent comes due.
- You can go along with it.
Man, we really don’t know how to count, huh? Wait, was that another cheap joke which we’re now trying to pass off as another life lesson? Sheesh. This is just getting disgusting. We even pointed out that it’s another list like a callback on that running joke (let’s be honest, trudging, at best) will somehow save this mess.
Here’s the thing, though. Someone’s got to pretend to be an expert, otherwise, no one will ever get back to bed. We’ll all be wandering around a desolate urban landscape forever, bedless.
Let me tell you a story. When I went to college (Yes, we both actually did go to college. And majored in Bullshit) I was in a band. I’ll pause while you get the snickering over with. We needed gigs, so I had the bright idea of joining some political groups. They would have rallies and needed bands. The best were the Communists because they always had pizza. The Republicans only had Huey Lewis cover bands, so we never played for them. But the worst were the Anarchists. They never got anything done because they didn’t have a leader. They just sat around arguing theory all the time. Rallies never happened, and pizza was certainly never ordered. The moral to this lesson is that if you want pizza — and to get back to bed — someone has to step up and get whatever stupid bullshit you’re having to do done. If no one else seems to be doing it, why not you?
Enough With The Lists Already
There are some things you can do to make yourself a more convincing expert. We won’t make another list. Promise.
- We lied. Suck it.
- Look the part. Perhaps wear a cape and a fuzzy fur cap. Wait, no, that’s Dr. Zhivago. You’ll have to wear clothes, though. Sorry.
- Keep talking. If someone asks a question, answer it. Accuracy doesn’t matter. Pro Tip: If you have absolutely no idea and can’t think of a quick lie, ask someone else. Nothing makes a person look more confident than being able to defer to someone else in a respectful way. It makes you look like you care what they have to say. Those suckers will be eating out of your hand.
- Rookie mistakes to avoid: There are two things* you might be tempted to do but which will unmask you as a fraud. (1) You might think answering a question with a question will get you out of a jam. “Mr. Expert, what is the Meaning of Life.” “Ah, but Grasshopper, what is the Life of Meaning?” Believe us, people catch on to this pretty quickly. Next thing you know, Grasshopper is demanding a refund from Bodhisattva University or whatever scam it is you’re running, and, unless you can lawyer up to crush that request, you’re going to be excusing yourself, packing your bags, and leaving by the window. (*Yeah, there is only one thing here. We’re shameless.)
- Give them snacks.
- Lists, remember that one? A callback on that cheap ass joke? Wow. Yeah, we’re shameless, we know. Seriously, though, lists. People like to count small amounts. It’s one thing just about everybody does well and doesn’t have to think about too much, and some days, you need that win. Give folks a win, and they’ll feel better about themselves and more optimistic about their chances of getting back to bed soon. This applies in general terms, as well. See? Pulled it off. Even added a Humanistic element. How freaking awesome are we?
- Don’t brag too much. Nobody likes to see anyone do too much better than they’re doing. But if you scale it back with a little humility and admit your wrongdoing (Sorry about saying we’re awesome before. We meant it ironically) all will be forgiven.
If you follow these simple techniques, you’ll be getting promotions at work, people will want to do sex with you (maybe), and most importantly, you’ll be able to go back to bed.
Unfortunately, women are routinely ignored or actively shouted down by men even when the women are ACTUAL experts. Even when a woman is, say, the foremost authority in her field (the field could be named after her!), some guy is going to explain to her (inevitably at some social gathering, where kicking his knees out backwards is considered impolite) about this thing she’s the (actual) expert in, and also get it wrong, while, the whole time, looking at her chest and trying to get her number. We don’t know why so many men do this, but it seems to be rooted in their essential dickishness and massive disconnect from reality.
The thing is, and we feel like the people who need to “hear” this won’t, but this isn’t going to help anyone get back to bed. It certainly isn’t going to make the women join these men in bed. It’s really just making everything worse for everyone. Heck, maybe if men didn’t ignore and actively shout down women, it might actually be nice not to be in bed for five minutes! Imagine. So, rein it in, guys. Seriously. Stop believing your own bullshit.
Anyway, the bottom line here is that we just made all this up, and now you can too! We’re only admitting to it because we need a little more content to make this thing long enough, but we can’t think of any more gibberish to spew, so we’re going to come clean and then work that into a life lesson somehow. That’s all being an expert really is. Maybe we’ll say something about how it’s okay if you’re nervous or unsure about things, you can seek out answers and learn and grow, because everybody started off like that. Or maybe we’ll say something about how you should always question supposed experts because they might not be as “expert” as they claim to be. They might be total frauds, like us. The important thing is honesty, as we’ve just demonstrated. Mostly though, we’re just going to type a little bit more and then stop as though we’ve said something profound, when really, leaving it open-ended like this is just putting the work of moving forward onto the reader. It’s really quite shameful, isn’t it? Ok. Pizza rolls are done. Have a good one.