Truth On Thin Ice: The Erosion Of Expertise in the Digital Age
The Struggle to Find Genuine Thought Leadership
In today’s ever-evolving digital landscape, the notion of thought leadership, the authority that used to be reserved for those with deep expertise, experience, and credibility in a particular field, is going through a profound crisis.
You’re browsing your social media of choice and a video comes up, the title says: Oatmeal is NOT healthy. The influencer proceeds to talk about phytic acid, chelates, minerals, and a bunch of other stuff that you don’t really understand.
You pause for a second.
Now I can’t even eat f*cking oats?! 😡
This ‘insight’ is just the cherry on top as you’ve scrolled past some weirdo recommending the miraculous meat-only diet, a questionably tanned raw vegan in a paradise beach eating 500 billion pounds of bananas, and a ‘doctor’ swearing by the power of fasting for 5 consecutive days and then eating one and a half macadamia nuts to ✨maximise rejuvenation✨.
Ok, I’m exaggerating, but you get the point.
Now everybody is entitled to an opinion. No matter the subject.
It’s pretty blatant when it comes to nutrition advice, but it’s also prevalent in politics, education, business, culture. You name it.
Today, digital reach has become the number one source of social proof.
And with it, we’ve got ourselves a war on truth.
Now any influencer with questionable research can publish their thoughts online. And the higher the views and followers, the higher the credibility.
After all, if so many people click like, it must be true, right?
Not long ago thought leaders were individuals whose insights and opinions carried weight due to their genuine expertise in their respective fields. They had earned their status through years of research, experience, and commitment to their craft.
Their influence was grounded in knowledge and trust.
However, digital media has brought in a new era. An era where information gets spread like never before. Social media platforms have now become the primary vehicles for sharing ideas and opinions. And real experts now find themselves competing with a cacophony of voices, where being heard requires mastering the art of digital self-promotion.
And as we say in the world of tech, distribution beats product.
So now, any individual savvy in digital media can harness the power of social media and personal branding to present themselves as experts.
They may lack the depth of knowledge, but they excel at marketing their personas. And their opinions often go viral, regardless of their accuracy.
And in the age of digital echo chambers, perception quickly becomes reality.
These self-appointed experts frequently express opinions that are biased, unsupported by evidence, or even outright false. Yet, through sheer volume and repetition, their viewpoints gain traction, blurring the line between fact and fiction.
And now we find ourselves on thin ice when it comes to truth.
As a result, the public’s trust is eroding rapidly.
And that means we are in deep sh*t 💩.
But what is there to be done? How can we fight this?
Are we destined to question every single piece of content we consume from now on?
Well, in fact, that would be a very healthy habit.
But more importantly, thought leadership needs a revamp.
And thought leaders, actual experts, need help navigating the new paradigm.
They need to self-actualise and embrace the digital landscape.
They need to learn the ropes of digital exposure so that their expert opinions can rise above the noise.
And truly, if many so-called experts have done it, you—the one with actual expertise—can do it too.