The Internet has changed the way we do almost everything including think.
What I believe most people are doing when they post on social and business media platforms - if not outright marketing something - is seeking legitimacy.
Whereas previous generations had verifiable benchmarks, the new economy has virtually no barriers to entry and limited authentication processes. People can even be famous just for being famous - without having any discernible talents or skills. Anyone can have a website, a business, a blog, a Youtube channel, an Instagram account, self-publish a book, offer a service, and create Facebook and LinkedIn profiles with putative bios that are merely over-inflated if not fictitous autobiographies.
Language has not caught up to the paradigm shift and I believe it would be best if we agreed sooner rather than later to retire ten terms that have become meaningless if not self-refuting.
10. Renowned. If you are truly renowned then we have already heard of you. The word 'renowned' in a bio has come to mean its exact opposite.
9. Entrepreneur. One hundred years ago a plumber who listed his business in the Yellow Pages would not consider himself an entrepreneur. Today, if you market any goods or services on the Internet by default you are an entrepreneur. Stop misleading people into thinking you are the next Steve Jobs when you sell paperweights on Etsy. Telling people you are an entrepreneur is like telling them you breathe air.
8. International (or Global). Recently two people introduced themselves to me as "International Yoga Teachers." If you use the Internet then you exist internationally. We are all international; we are all global. Having a passport does not mean that you are more gifted than anyone else. It simply means that you have a passport.
7. Expert, as in "Leading Expert." The Internet has allowed everyone to claim to be an expert in anything and everything - especially in categories that they created. "World's Premier Hamster Spleen Expert." Nietzsche wrote, "Truth begins with two." At least have the decency to allow someone who has benefited directly from your expertise to call you an expert. Writing in your own bio that you are a leading expert in a field that you created is sad. Albert Einstein didn't refer to himself as an expert. Pablo Picasso didn't refer to himself as an expert. The Dalai Lama doesn't refer to himself as an expert. Daniel Day Lewis doesn't refer to himself as an expert. Bruce Springsteen wouldn't call himself an expert at anything except suffering from depression. Like "renowned," if you were really an expert at something we would already know about it.
6. Award-winning. Apparently our society is littered with bogus, pointless prizes. "Best Narcissist" - obviously nobody came in second. If someone wins a Nobel Peace Prize, a Pulitzer, a Grammy or an Oscar, he is the last person to call himself "Award-winning." Anyone who calls himself "Award-winning" has probably not won an award that you ever heard of.
5. Blogger. Spinning a pot out of clay to carry water was useful in Mesopotamia; spinning a pot of clay today means that you have too much leisure time. Similarly, being a wordsmith used to have value; however, the Internet changed that. Once upon a time there was an occupation called "writer," but since the vast majority of sites do not feel obliged to pay for content, that métier has been relegated to the dustbin of history. Scores of people now refer to themselves as "bloggers" as if that were a vocation or something to be proud of. Next time someone tells you he is a blogger ask what words fill the "Occupation" box on his tax return. And yes, my plumber does have a blog.
4. Published, as in "Published Author." Anyone who own a computer or smart phone now considers himself to be "Published." Blogging or compiling blogs into a PDF file and sending it to Createspace to be sold on Amazon does not make you J.K. Rowling. Blogging and self-publishing are completely unrelated to being either published or an author.
3. Philanthropist. True philanthropy is done anonymously. If your name is attached to the word "Philanthropist" and you are not dead yet, then what you are really doing is seeking redemption. It's wildly admirable that you feel guilty for being rich and privileged, but real philanthropists help handicapped people across the street, read books to blind children, dig latrines in Africa, are so dead that they don't care about tax deductions. Being applauded for the ability to scribble your name on a check is more absurd than Kafka's Hunger Artist.
2. Public Figure. This term is so patently tautological that every time I see someone calling himself a "Public Figure" on his own Facebook business page whatever I have last eaten immediately rises back up my esophagus. Kim Kardasian is the only person for whom the term "Public Figure" is remotely accurate. And if you aspire to be Kim Kardasian then you are probably already as talentfree as she is. I take that back: she's not entirely talentfree - she does know how to walk.
1. Coach, as in "Life Coach." A baseball or football team needs a coach who trains, motivates them and holds them accountable. Management Consultants tell corporations what they already know but don't want to believe; analogously, Life Coaches charge you proportionally to your own lack of discipline. They are self-anointed professional flagellators who may or may not possess vague, unverifiable, ungoverned, unregulated qualities. No child ever looked up at his mother and said, "Mommy, when I grow up I want to be a Life Coach!" For the vast majority, "Life Coach" simply means that they failed at becoming what they really wanted to become (actor, musician, writer, director, etc.), their dreams have been incinerated, and from the bitter ashes of failure they are trying to earn a living.
Obviously, there are exceptions: there are great philanthropists who support wonderful cause and don't call attention to their largess; there are reputable performance coaches who help people get motivated to do great things; there are extremely gifted writers who choose to self-publish because they are tired of shareholders profiting from their hard work. But most of the time when I see those ten terms in bios I immediately hide my credit card and I recommend that you do the same. Because people who refer to themselves by the above monikers are usually seeking legitimacy so that they can extract money from you.
Fellow human beings living in first world countries, let us be honest about the busyness that we are conducting on the Internet. Let us even be humble and dignified about it. Let us be authentic. Let us accurately portray and convey the activities we engage in during our brief stays on planet capitalism. Let us retire those 10 terms.