One of my favorite words is “hubris.” I’ll bet you know it, but in case you don’t, it comes from the Greek, and — in modern usage — it means excessive pride or self-confidence.

If you’ve ever encountered someone and thought, “Just who do they think they are?” you’ve seen hubris.

I see it a lot these days. I’m not sure if it’s more common than it was years ago or if I just notice it more. Either way, it’s not a trend I like.

I blame the internet and social media for a lot of that. As much as I love the digital age and the convenience it gives us, I sometimes wonder if it doesn’t take away just as much … or more. And one of my pet peeves about the internet is that it is helping to destroy the concept of expertise.

Fifteen or 20 years ago, if you wanted to be seen as an expert, you had to earn your stripes, pay your dues and work your way up to that lofty status. You got there through education, through experience and through hard work.

Today, a true expert can make a statement on the web and watch it be shouted down by throngs whose only qualification is that they have an internet connection and a keyboard.

I think it’s called Web 2.0 — the interactive era, during which the internet became a two-way street between content creators and content consumers.

In theory, this is great; there should be a dialogue between these parties. In practice, it’s too often an ugly brawl with no meaning or substance.

I like to think I have a healthy respect for those who know more than I do about certain things. I like to think I have a general awareness of what I don’t know and a keen realization that it can certainly hurt me.

But I wonder if that’s normal today. I’m concerned that today’s “default setting” is simply to change the channel or click to another page when presented with something you disagree with.

Don’t like the news on CNN? Switch to Fox.

Don’t want to inoculate your kids before sending them to school? Just click around the internet until you find an “expert” who agrees with your position. They’re out there … and you can find one (or a thousand) who will agree with your thinking.

After all, my opinion is just as good as yours’, right? Well, sometimes … but definitely not always. It depends on what we’re talking about.

All opinions are not equal. If you have health issues, you should consult a doctor. If you want to send a manned capsule into outer space, you should talk with the folks at NASA.

But it doesn’t stop there. Experts can be found in every discipline, even mundane stuff.

So, what does my rant have to do with fishing tackle? Maybe not a lot at first glance, but this is more than just a chance for me to vent.

In today’s social climate, if we consider ourselves experts or if being regarded as experts matters, we need to find ways to rise above the noise and chaos and stand out as thought leaders. That applies to fishing tackle just as it does to anything else.

What are you doing to stand out and rise above? Today, it’s not enough just to unlock the doors and flip over the “Open” sign … or to roll out a shiny new product line. That’s just a foundation. There’s a throng out there ready to shout you down if that’s all you’ve got. How are you going to put them in their place?

After all, who do they think they are?