Labels and titles. Titles and labels. They’re everywhere. Some claim and cherish while others run from restrictions and stereotypes. I straddle a line here. Some labels and titles are appropriate and necessary. But there’s a sad reality that a lot of people self-proclaim and misrepresent and do so to the detriment of others.
To begin, yay Internet. I love you. Social media, you are capable of engagement and entertainment. Together, you’ve taken the world by storm. But what qualifies someone to be an influencer? Is a health coach certified via education and/or degree, or did they pay for a title without experience? Listen, this isn’t an easy topic to discuss. It feels judgmental, but I assure it’s not intended to be. This is about evaluation, which we’ve stripped from many processes and scenarios. We need to evaluate who is an expert and entrepreneur. Just as importantly, we need to decide what authenticity looks like in a world where we can purchase likes, self-label, self-title, and filter images.
Are you ready to hear about my experiment? This week I subscribed to twenty-five websites or services that promised promotion, brand recognition, all the follows and likes one can get, etc. I did so in the midst of the great Instagram sweep, where tons of big named celebrities, influencers, and artists complained about follower loss after Instagram attempted to weed out the imitators and bots of the world. Guess what I learned? This is only a small part of the problem. Soon, my numbers will return to their original state. Currently, it’s about self-portrayal. In my case, it proved anything can be acquired. But, I can also self-label myself without very little informative inquiry or research. Someone quoted me as being an expert in my field. Um, excuse me, but have you read this blog? I’m not an expert in anything. This is about conversation, exchange, and personal development. It’s a need and possibly a niche, but it’s not expert based. Anyone can facilitate. My how and why are self-taught through experience. But I’m not trying to lead or teach. I’m trying to relate. There’s a difference. Sometimes leading and teaching are byproducts. Regardless, I’m not going to claim expertise when it’s not earned or deserved. But I could have and that’s the dangerous reality we find ourselves in these days. We need to evaluate more than ever before.
My experiment also taught me that the quality of product is that much harder to recognize in a world oversaturated with experts. And now, more than ever, numbers matter. This had me wondering what we did before the Internet. Seriously, what did we do?
I’ve decided the reason it’s so hard for me to explain this thing I’m doing is because I fear categorization.
In my opinion, it’s important to know that starting at the bottom, with little to nothing, is still the way to go. It’s entirely too easy to overinflate and misrepresent, and aside from a raised eyebrow or occasional accolade, it gets you nowhere.
Phew. That felt like a lot. I’m off to go unsubscribe and get rid of some shady stuff on my Instagram account. The experiment is over. It’s time to return to being authentically ordinary. But trust me, extraordinary fun and potential are within us all. No lables or titles are necessary. Let’s unearth it together through some coffee and conversation.