One of our board members has spent roughly 20 years working as a live event sound engineer. They have shared a maxim famous in that industry: “Everyone knows two things: Their job and audio.”
This board offers that one of the most productive yet maddening and divisive aspects of the American character is brought to light in this joke. For lack of a better word, it is an American “I-know-your-job-better-than-you-ism.”
This charming little feature is present in all manner of American pastimes: armchair quarterbacking, grade-grubbing, getting a second medical opinion, DIY projects, etc.
The underlying assumption is usually this: Everyone is at once expert at their job and even more brilliant at everyone else’s. The logical contradiction here should be apparent.
Once in a while, this impulse to do a job better than the next person creates huge improvements in an occupation, a business, an industrial sector or even the world. More often than not, it is downright condescending. To paraphrase Hofstadter, this results from an underlying attitude of egalitarianism combined with a growing fear and resentment of modern specialized expertise.