I was watching one of the morning news programs recently, and the story was about some celebrity break-up or something. The program host was talking to someone who was listed on the program as a “Relationship Expert.”
Seriously? A “Relationship Expert?” How does one become a “Relationship Expert?” Are there degree programs in “Relationships?” Is it possible this person (so many of them have bizarre hair styles and wear outlandish glasses) is a “Psychologist?” Why not just say that? I would imagine that if this person were a psychologist, they would be listed or introduced as one. I think it would carry more weight than “Relationship Expert.” At least we know that a psychologist had to study a disciplined regimen to be officially called a “psychologist.” Perhaps a psychologist has a rather deep understanding of the complexities of personal relationships. If I were a psychologist, I would much rather be known as a psychologist than a “Relationship Expert.” My wife and I have been together for 36 years–I would think that qualifies both of us as “Relationship Experts.” Maybe we should be on the morning news programs when celebrities break up. We could use the money.
Another one I saw that made me wonder was a person billed as a “Lifestyle Expert.” A Lifestyle Expert. There are actually people who make a living as “Lifestyle Coaches.” Now, I can understand a tennis coach, or a football coach, or a dancing coach. You hire one of these people because they have developed a certain expertise that you wish to have them impart upon you, to become a better tennis player, a better dancer, or to have your team perform better together. But people are now hiring so-called “Lifestyle Experts” to be “Lifestyle (sometimes just shortened to “Life”) Coaches.” What for? to tell you how to live better? And what qualifies these “Coaches” to teach you how to live better? Now, some people hire a tennis coach, for example, to act as a set of outside eyes, and try to find ways to improve one’s game that the player him or herself cannot see. Is that what a “Life Coach” does? Observe your life and tell you where you’re messing up? Isn’t that what friends and family are for?
There was a time when the “self-help” section of a library or book store was a shelf or two of books mostly devoted to “do-it-yourself” projects. Now, stores and libraries have entire sections devoted to “self-help,” covering everything from management, to relationships, sex, you name it. What strikes me as funny is that it’s really a mistake to call this material self-help. It seems that people aren’t trying to help themselves out as much as they want someone to tell them what to do. Perhaps, that way, if things don’t work out, you can blame someone besides yourself. Thus, if you hire a “Life Coach,” and your life is still a mess, blame the “Life Coach.” Are we looking for someone to guide us or someone to blame when it doesn’t work? I’m not saying that we don’t all need a bit of help and advice from time to time. I just find it a bit disturbing that such a huge industry has been built around it. Maybe I’m just a cynic. Maybe I need more help than I think.