Anyway, the point of today’s blog dear friends is not to delve into the distinctions behind music terminology, nor to explore the intricacies of Justin Beiber or how to rhyme “janky hoopty”. The point is that I am the last person, okay, perhaps second to last person, who should be giving his opinion regarding someone’s original Hip Hop/ R&B composition. It’s kind of like asking a vegetarian whether they prefer a New York Strip or Filet Mignon.
So my response to this individual who insisted upon playing every second of every one of his musical rhapsodies for me was to explain that my opinion didn’t matter. No, really, honestly, it didn’t matter. I wasn’t someone who fell into a demographic for buying his product. I didn’t know what this music should sound like or what even might be a glaring fault in its production. Perhaps even more so than the example of our vegetarian, consider me akin to the lactose intolerant, where every beat of his music brought me closer to hurling my lunch. Mr. Gilbert which set of these sounds of fingernails on a chalkboard do you prefer, A or B?
Which brings me to what today’s post is all about. It would seem that there are few appropriate yardsticks out there. Everyone is offering their opinion, regardless of whether they have any experience on the subject or not. Quite often the opinion is offered as advice. And there are tons of people all over the internet who need advice. Exactly whose advice do they take and why should they take it.
You might say that it’s a simple matter of seeing which opinions form the majority, but that often doesn’t work, since we still see 5 year old email hoaxes flying around. Anybody with a large enough twitter following could manage to get quite a few people retweeting something that could be patently false. Large companies like McDonald’s could compensate thousands of women to go online to say how they now go to McDonald’s and are able to purchase healthier food for themselves and their kids. Go visit a McDonald’s and hang out for a few hours and count the number of McYoghurts they sell.
Unfortunately, some people may be spouting propaganda and not even know it. They might have read something online in one chat room and brought it with them to another one. Much the way that Captain Cook’s men spread syphilis across the South Sea Islands.
Some people may just enjoy seeing their name in print, so to speak. Others feel that they can elevate their business or social status by acting as a “pro”.
Then, there are tons of people with all kinds of mental afflictions and other character defaults that have nothing better to do than inflict their own brand of social media on people. Just how much time can you spend online as a sexual predator before you feel like taking a break to leave some sort of opinion?
I heard somewhere that more information was created in 2010 than in all recorded history of the world up until that point. Do we really need all this information?
The fellow who raves about a local French Restaurant having incredible food fails to mention that the first thing he does is put ketchup and hot sauce on everything he eats.
A woman raves about the contractor who put in her new bathroom addition and fully promotes this contractor online. A year later when her bathroom falls apart and she discovers why the contractor didn’t pull permits she realizes she may have made a mistake. She unfortunately doesn’t go back to the 17 websites that she gave rave reviews to and so the contractor goes on to con dozens more, partially based on her continued recommendation.
I happened to be a few blocks from where a gas main exploded in San Bruno, California. Within a half hour of the gas main exploding, over 250,000 twitterati on twitter had tweeted that a plane crashed in Northern California. A year later and people still ask me about the “plane crash”.
But it’s not just the odd peddler here, or the misguided munchkin there. It comes from everywhere. Its corporations and your nephew. The kid you sat next to in 7th grade algebra to a guy you just met at a cyber-convention. We have information diarrhea. It stinks and it’s everywhere. We need some information gastric bypass surgery.
I now spend more time than I care to admit just trying to figure out what information I have received is credible, important and should be logged in my noggin.
Let’s not support everyone who has something to say. Let’s not cheer the people who use thin veils to shroud self-serving issues. Let’s ask the cheerleaders to tell us why we should be cheering. Let’s not assume that the person giving their opinion is someone who should be giving their opinion. And just because most of it is free, let’s not use that as an excuse to settle for crap.
If you’re the one who is giving the advice or answering the question, think about how your answer may be impacting the life of another human being.
For now, there are few implications and little consequences, but at the rate we are going I can see a day not too far off in the future where lawsuits are flying because somebody gave some stupid advice.
There is a saying, sometimes attributed to Mark Twain, sometimes to Abraham Lincoln, although its derivation is actually a mystery. It is wise advice nonetheless. “It is better to keep one’s mouth shut and be thought a fool, than to open it and remove all doubt.”
For the record, you will not find me in any music, hip hop, r&b, American Idol or other forums, chat rooms or social sites, offering my unique opinions on hip hop/ r&b. There are also plenty of other places you will also not find my opinion. And the way it’s going, I tend to be less and less inclined to either get or give opinions with each passing day.
I’m not suggesting you not have an opinion. You may have many valid reasons to believe your family cheesecake recipe is the best and might wish to share it. That’s a good thing. But if the closest you’ve gotten to medical school is watching House or playing Operation, then perhaps leaving comments regarding medical breakthroughs might be beyond your pay grade.
Often we don’t know enough about the person giving the advice or how they have come to their conclusions. Delusions run deep or they may simply have ulterior motives. As with the woman who didn’t even know that her home remodel was dangerous and illegal. If you’re looking for advice, consider the source and if you don’t know the source, consider it may just be an unqualified opinion. For example,I see this happening in many of the creative forums. In one forum, an artist was offering advice on how to sell artwork. I followed up with some private emails and discovered that the “artist’s” sales consisted of a few items to family members, which barely paid for the paint and canvas. Someone in a voice over forum mentioned “watermarking” his auditions, and I assume many people would think this a good idea. The actor failed to mention that he had only booked one oout of the last 200 auditions he did. He also has two other jobs to pay the bills because he makes almost no money at voice over. Did he not book these auditions because he has no ability or did the watermarking actually put him out of contention? We wouldn’t necessarily know, but his post made sense and people will follow his advice.
In another forum, a woman mentioned that half of her business last year came from people simply discovering her site. I contacted this woman and found out that she had 2 people find her site via an online directory. One of those became a client who hired her to do a $1,200 project. Her gross billings were $2,300 for the year, so technically what she said is correct. I doubt the image any of us might have conjured up matches the reality of the situation. I doubt that anybody really would want to take business advice from this person.
A friend who is an antiques dealer mentioned a site where someone gave some advice on how to “care” for piece of furniture. Following the care directions he gave might have devalued a rare item by 80% or more. Oops, my bad?
Oh and one more bit of advice we seem to get these days that is almost always unqualified is “follow your dream, no matter what”. That alone, can be a subject for ten more blogs. My preferred advice is to tell people that “the nicest thing about banging one’s head against the wall is stopping”.
Think twice regardless of which end of the advice giving table you may be on.