Just the other day I accomplished something that had been nagging at me for the past year. I went out and purchased a memory upgrade for my iBook computer and actually installed it myself, with nobody there to help me.
Now I realize that on the surface this may seem like a minor and insignificant event, but for someone like me, who has always lived in fear of making mistakes and as a consequence, relinquished responsibility for my actions by relying on others to take care of things, doing this with my own two hands was a huge undertaking.
Computers (especially Macs), after all, are expensive machines and should not to be trifled with. If there is a problem and ignoring it is no longer an option, then leave it to the professionals. As far as upgrading the system, forget about it! Just save up and buy a new one.
I use my computer all the time, mainly to write and surf the Web. While I am reasonably competent at installing software or downloading attachments, I am not a techie, not by a long shot. I count on the fact that when I push that power button, my computer turns on without a glitch. If something goes wrong, I’ll simply turn it off and try again.
So for me to take the initiative and actually modify the hardware was nothing short of a revolution. This, of course, got me to thinking – what exactly was I so afraid of? Why am I always making such mountains out of molehills?
Well, at the root of it all is fear of the unknown, coupled with the fear of doing something wrong, not to mention the dire consequences that I’d been conditioned to believe were awaiting my every mistake. Whether or not I actually made the mistake was irrelevant.
So rather than assert myself and take control of the situation, and thus my life, I generally choose to defer responsibility (and thus the blame for any problems) to someone else. Namely an “expert.” What constitutes an expert is often times anybody but myself, regardless of their level of expertise.
When I look around me, I get a sense that I might not be alone. After all, entire industries have sprung up around this concept of fear. It seems to have become socially acceptable to be afraid and, as a consequence, turn to an “expert” for guidance and advice on how to do just about everything.
Bear in mind, I fully acknowledge the importance of an expert in certain areas. I go to the doctor when I’m sick, and when I need legal counseling I talk to a lawyer, even though he’s charging me two hundred dollars an hour.
But I think it’s fair to say that things have gotten a bit out of hand, and in the grand scheme of things, it seems like we’ve simply given up on just thinking for ourselves. This need for expertise has invaded all aspects of our lives, including how we interact with our loved ones, what foods we’re supposed to eat, and which clothes we’re supposed to wear. We even turn to experts to tell us how to be happy.
And of course, let us not forget about parenting.
Marketers have shamelessly targeted the vulnerable parent, praying on their fears, fanning the flames of their anxieties to induce them to spend their money on goods and services that make unfound (and often times ridiculous) claims while undermining their confidence to do even the most basic things. I read about a mother and father who went so …