Opinion: Everyone’s an expert these days
An idiot among geniuses. That’s how I feel most days.
I have a 10-year-old son who knows more than me, no matter the topic.
Sports? He’s an expert. Math? He’s Pythagoras. He even thinks he knows more about newspapers than I do (most people feel the same way). “Is that headline correct?” he might ask after reading the paper. “I don’t think there’s supposed to be a comma there.” He’s our harshest critic.
I guess it’s the age. At some point your children think they are smarter than you. I think I was at least 13 before I thought my parents were idiots. He’s reached that conclusion a bit early.
I’ve tried to correct him, saying things like “You’re 10, you can’t possibly have more knowledge than any adult,” or simply “I’m your father and that makes me smarter than you.”
I even tried logical, well-reasoned explanations about why he is wrong.
But those explanations fell on deaf ears, so I’ve taken a different approach lately. I’ll let him do things his way, since he’s so much smarter than me. And then I’ll smile, sit back and wait for it to go badly. Those hands-on lessons have more impact than my words.
Think you can chop down an oak tree with a shovel? Go for it. Think you can ride an adult bicycle with no brakes? Have at it. Think you know how to build a treehouse? I’d love to see you try.
Some of these lessons may be painful, but they will be cemented in his mind forever.
He’s not the only one at my house who thinks I’m less than intelligent. My other children apparently do as well, as evidenced by their preference for anyone to read them books but me. At story time each night, apparently I can’t be trusted to relay the happenings of Winnie the Pooh. They scream for “Momma” when they grab a book from the shelf.
Granted, I often skip over the uninteresting parts of any story. And some of Pooh’s adventures can get a bit lengthy. I usually hit the high points and might even substitute my own words here and there. I’m surprised they haven’t shouted “fake news” when they catch me editing A. A. Milne’s work. They want to hear every last word of the story, even if it’s unimportant or boring.
I can handle the criticism at home, probably because I’ve gotten so used to it at work. If you want to be called all sorts of ugly things for simply doing your job, then I’ve got a profession for you. Here at the newspaper, we’re on the receiving end of more filth than you could imagine. The press, even in Brookhaven, is an easy target. We understand why, and we know that if people didn’t care, they wouldn’t bother to call us horrible names.
We get blamed for all sorts of things we have nothing to do with and often get hate mail for the tiniest of infractions. How dare you not put my daughter’s photo on the front page. You must be an idiot for printing that story. Or: You must be an idiot for not printing this story. My all-time favorite: You should be sued for printing my name in the arrest record. Some even threaten to call their congressman when they don’t like us. Though I’m unsure why, some people think we are some sort of government agency.
There was a time when I responded to those criticisms with logical explanations of why we printed a story, or why we didn’t print a story, or what the role of a newspaper is. I’ve often explained the nuance of libel law to people that are upset with us. But those explanations usually fall on deaf ears. I simply get: You’re an idiot. So I just smile, thank them for reading the newspaper and accept that I will always be an idiot in their eyes.
It’s good practice for when I get home.
Publisher Luke Horton can be reached at email@example.com.