Thursday, September 15, 2011

Trust Me, I'm a [Insert Source Here]

This has bothered me for awhile, but I tend not to talk about it. Mainly because I don't want to put ideas about my credibility or lack thereof into people's heads.

Case in point: my bank's changing some policies that'll add fees to my two checking accounts. Discussing the matter with them revealed something I could do each month that would waive the fees from those accounts. I joked that I could always [insert loophole that would let the same money be used to waive the fees from both accounts]. The banker got nervous about me taking up that train of thought.

Okay, I realize that my delivery on jokes isn't obvious, but that loophole search is how my brain works. Give me a true/false question, and I naturally think of the exceptions to something being true or false. Give me a DRMed file, and I'll have ideas about what would need to happen to it to crack that DRM, though I've not actually done that. (Oh, but I've been tempted.)

I admit all this so I hopefully don't lose credence in your eyes when I say that people trust others too much.

You're online. Someone gives advice that sounds unusual to you, but you decide to trust it, because "Hey, they're an [author/editor/doctor/whatever]." (I've done this, too.)

Er, what are you thinking?

Let's suppose that that person actually is whatever source you think they are, which is a bigger assumption than many of us like considering. (And is the reason I don't like bringing this up.)

Does that source know everything about your specific situation? No. (At least, I hope not.) Does that source live anywhere near you, to know how your locality affects your situation? Probably not. Is that source infallible? No.

We are all of us fallible, so why do people mindlessly believe what Doctor So-and-So or Agent Shark or Kris Rusch say? Not trying to offend my doctor or Janet Reid or Kris, all of whom I respect. And all of whom I trust as sources who know what they're talking about.

But they aren't infallible. And I think they'd agree with that assessment.

Sometimes, I find myself reading along and nodding with whatever particular folks say, because they're so much older and wiser than I am, with so much more industry experience…

Er, right. Does that mean when someone older than me says "Climb that cliff!" I say "Which one?"? I've always wanted to rock climb, but I've never actually done it. I'm not going to start trying to climb some rock face without any kind of harness, support, or help, just because some bloke tells me I can. I know I don't have the proper training or even strength to pull that off.

I don't care if your vast array of professional experience says that anyone can climb that particular cliff, even a petite girl who's made ill by exercise. I'm physically incapable of doing it. If I let you convince me that I can, I'll only hurt myself.

I've had doctors poison me with things they were told, repeatedly, that I was allergic to (Tylenol and latex-free gloves). I've read enough agent advice to know that one agent's "Don't ever do this!" is another's "Do this!" I know enough writers to recognize that we all have different goals for our careers.

And, as young as I am, I've had enough business experience to know that even the best advice is useless if it doesn't fit your goals.

Be careful who you trust. Know your goals. And develop your own opinions, folks.



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