The Internet is amazing. I know, I know, a revolutionary thought, but it’s true. When I was growing up, if random questions came to me like “Who was the actor who played the Ape Man on that one episode of Gilligan’s Island?”, I was nearly powerless. Sure, I could have called the local library and asked a librarian to dig into it, and I would have felt like the ultimate d-bag for doing so. Thus, I would have settled simply to lump the question in with thousands of others in a mental shoebox labeled “Great Unsolved Mysteries.” Now? Now I can type the exact question in Google and find it was Denny Miller, thus freeing up precious mental bandwidth for other mysteries.

But that power is a double-edged sword because it’s eroded our concept of “professional.” Instead of feeling crappy and going to the doctor, we feel crappy, look up our symptoms on WebMD, and conclude we either have something benign or something rare, tropical, and deadly (depending on if you’re a glass half-full or half-empty type).

This tendency appears in our selection of pictures for online profiles. I think a lot of people, myself included, think “Meh, it’ll be expensive to get a professional photographer and besides, I can get the same kind of results with my phone and a selfie stick.” As a result, our picture selections generally suck, to be honest. My professional picture made me look like I was half-drunk and confused.

Earlier this week, my wife and I used a professional photographer (the amazing Washington DC Headshots) to do headshots and Oh…My…God…the difference is staggering.

This was my picture of choice for my professional authoring site. Yes, it’s immature and makes me look like a bro, fuck you very much.
Now this, THIS is an author’s headshot. I now no longer look like the guy who rotates your tires (not that there’s anything wrong with that).

Lighting, makeup, composition, getting me to smile without looking like I’m self-medicating, all things that required a professional’s expertise.

The belief that a 20-second Google search puts us on equal footing with professionals with decades of education, training, and experience is one of the Internet’s biggest drawbacks. Well, that and the popularity of the Kardashians.

So, the next time you think to yourself anything along the lines of “I bet I could repair my own brakes” or “This guy’s website says it’s normal to have blue pee,” stop and consider, instead, that you put your trust into the hands of someone who knows what the hell he or she is doing.

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