Writing What You Know in the Digital Age

By January 25, 2013Writing about Writing

Anyone who knows me well, knows I have a saying. “I’m always right because I only speak about what I know.” Obnoxious, maybe, but definitely logical. And judging by the actually popular saying “write about what you know”, I’m not the only one with that mindset. However, in a world where people now spend hours on Wikipedia and YouTube, learning about anything from John Wayne Gacy to how to perfectly apply fake eyelashes, can’t anyone now know anything?

There are two schools of thought on the matter. On the one hand, some people argue that with the abundance of resources now available to us, we should become a society of self-taught learners. Individually we may not know much, but if we each add in our two cents, over time, we will all be better educated as a unit. A farmer may become a world renowned clothing designer, and a housewife could very well end up on the New York Times Best-Seller List. By sharing information, the sky becomes the limit, no matter who you are, or where you are located.

But on the other hand, this can be dangerous. How many of us really want to rely on a medical diagnosis via a discussion board on Web MD? Or on a lesser scale, who wants to get a bad grade on an assignment simply because they cited Ask.com as a source? There are certainly downsides to trusting just anyone, with important pieces of information. When it’s all said and done, there’s a big difference between writing what you actually know, and writing what you just recently briefly researched.

So when it comes to “good” writing, personally, I will stay away from the latter. You probably won’t ever see me giving out legal advice or writing cook books, but when it comes to NBA rumors, the best shopping in Chicago, and how to personalize Starbucks’ drinks? I’m all over it.