If I'm ever going to be criticised for an opinion, it's going to be because of this text. Talk of the town in Dubrovnik this year is Uber. Uber is one of the biggest companies involved in transportation of passengers nowadays, yet they do not own a single vehicle. They are a mobile platform through which people offering car rides and potential passengers are connected. The success of Uber meant that they broke through some of the heavily regulated and monopolised markets like taxi services in the big urban areas and have brought competition where there was none (or very little). Well done!
However, I don't share the enthusiasm of the majority of people around me when it comes to Uber and similar companies. De-regulation is not a bad thing, especially in countries like Croatia where so much of our business is, if anything, over-regulated. Still, I believe the whole process needs to be done more carefully than the case is. I don't hate Uber, I just wanted you to start reading the text, but I do hate the trend it symbolises. Trend of amateurism over professionalism.
It is visible in so many levels of society: business, entertainment, the media. Everything is now in the hands of the “regular people”, which might sound good on paper, but I think it’s horrible.
There are so many platforms today that pair amateur service providers with service seekers, all looking to be the next big thing. The majority of these have one thing in common – they are not liable for service quality, safety, or standards. The user rating system is put in place in order for the users to be able to rate their service providers... after they have already paid for the service, of course.
From reality contests to services and products, amateurs “with a passion” are being celebrated, supporting the idea everyone can do anything they wish. Well, guess what? They can’t. At least not professionally.
However nice these thoughts sound on motivational posters, it takes more than desire to make something happen, especially to do a job you are not qualified to do.
However, I don’t understand the shock of some people in Dubrovnik by this new development. De-regulation (at least in practice) is nothing new in our town or country, as incredible as it sounds. Dubrovnik today seems like a city where anyone can do anything. Anyone can run a restaurant, anyone can be a professional driver or a tour guide, and absolutely anyone can work in the service sector. Guess what the result is? Yep, plenty of bad restaurants, lousy tours and bad experiences for the service consumers. But hey, at least we are keeping our costs down. If you think the market has magically taken care of all the poor service providers by driving them out of business with user reviews and online ratings, you are sadly mistaken. The only reason people choose to quit is because the business of tourism is hard and demands sacrifice. Those that do, first make a dent in the destination’s overall image or dump prices the last year of being in business.
This global trend is making young people grow up into shallow consumers which don't see the value in quality. Why should they? They are being offered all these quick fixes and shortcuts. You think professional photographers are expensive? No problem, buy a used camera with a pre-programmed shooting modes for various situations and go to town capturing your own „professional quality“ photos. You don't want to pay for a graphic designer for your company's website? No problem, buy a cheap template and make your own cutting edge web page. Your friends think you know how to cook well? Excellent, join one of the reality cooking shows and prove to the world you are just as good as someone who studied on LeCordon Bleu and then worked their butt off in various restaurants, going through the ranks to become a head chef.
It's good to believe in yourself. Hell, it's even good to give people a chance to showcase their talents. But, we are starting to believe our own hype. This is why we are today calling pop stars “artists,” amateurs “masterchefs” and forwarding clips of people playing with fidget spinners or painting upside down and calling this an incredible talent. It's all very cute, but the title does not make a book.
It's nice the amateurs have a chance to shine every once in a while, but whenever possible, I'd like to be driven or flown by a professional, have my meals prepared by a qualified person, or at least someone who cares about me, and have people who lecture me be certified to do so. Otherwise, I can simply start calling myself a writer.
Bozidar Jukic, AKA The Restless Native, is a Dubrovnik local with too many interests to name them all, with writing being at the very top of the list. He is a lover of good food, music and film, and a firm believer in the healing power of laughter. His professional orientation is towards tourism and travel so it comes as no surprise he spends most of his time alongside Mrs. Jukic running their own local tour company. Their goal is helping travellers from all over the world get a more intimate experience of Dubrovnik and what it has to offer. To find out more about their work, visit their website or Facebook page.