Sunday, February 24, 2008

How do you map your life?

We face decisions every day which can impact both ourselves and others.

We live in an Internet world increasingly filled with content filtered by people who are not paid to do the job.

Not only are they not paid to do the job, they are often self declared experts. Unfortunately there is little or no supervision. Error checking is almost not existent.

The only check to the system is that if you don't like the rules you can set up shop yourself and create your own rules.

There are social sites with moderators. I have found it interesting how some people gravitate towards these sites to find information on critical decisions regarding their own lives.

I am actually a little baffled that people would go to people they have only met online and who are operating under assumed screen names for important information like where to move.

In a simpler time, people vacationed in an area. If they liked the area, they might get a second home or retire there. Now it seems they no longer have time to vacation and need someone else to tell them if the area is nice.

I wonder if we have become such a virtual world that people no longer want to trust their own judgment.

I have found that trusting yourself works really well unless you get in over your head. Finding someone who knows more than you can be a life saver.

I considered living in Newfoundland back in the early seventies.

I read some travel books and got in my Toyota Landcruiser with some maps and headed to Newfoundland.

At one point my wife and I flew in to the area in a small plane with floats and camped for three days. Hiking across the barrens is a little more personal way to experience Newfoundland than surfing on the Internet. I figured out living in Newfoundland might not be my cup of tea.

As I read posts of people asking where to find the cheapest beach property or the area with the best schools, I know in my heart that plenty of real information is online and available with minimal Google skills. I have been on forums, seen a question, done a Google search and responded. Have I helped or hurt the person who should have been able to do that on their own?

I also know that forums are full of experts who have driven through an area and some who live in an area but may experience it only through a forum. Forums also seem to have a bias against people who might make money if someone talked to them. It is as if money corrupts the information. I guess if we are on the Internet the information has to have no money attached to it.

The problem is that the best information often comes from people whose job depends on them knowing the right answers. If you want to know whether or not is possible to purchase a home for under $200K within seven miles of the beach, you are more likely to get a correct answer from a RealtorĀ® who makes his or her living in that area.

I bet most people who go to a forum for advice have political opinions held so fiercely that a boat load of experts writing in whatever newspaper you choose cannot change them one iota.

Yet off they go eagerly seeking opinions from people who might never have seen an area.

Even those who have experienced an area have widely varying views. I can put two couples in my car, two beautiful days in a road, show them the same neighborhoods and get completely different opinions.

My kids can go to the same schools as yours, and we can totally disagree on the quality of the schools.

So why in the world do people let people they hardly know help them make like changing decisions.

I hate to say it, but I think people would rather live in these virtual worlds of what ifs than actually get out and do something about their life.

For every person who has the courage to make a change in their life, there are probably a dozen who spend days lost in the virtual world of forums discussing the possibility of moving.

The people who really want a change look for clues and then bravely head out on their own to do their own research without any filters. They end up being guided by someone like we were when we came looking for a property on the coast.

It is actually the only way to do it. You can head in a certain direction based on what you might have heard but we each need to make our own decision of which way to turn at the "T" in the road.

The direction you go should be based on what you feel, smell, taste, and think on your own, not on what someone who hides behind a handle on a forum tells you is best, or the content permitted by some unknown moderator operating under rules designed to make the forum money.

I love to empower people with information to help them make their own decisions. It is a whole lot easier to do that in person than on a forum.

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