“Cert X was way too easy!” — “I over prepared for test Y.” — “I’ve been learning too much for exam Z.”

To all bloggers, posters, authors, influencers… out there. Please stop posting such messages. They’re toxic.

When researching information security certificates and especially when searching for material to prepare for recent exams, I have read many similar comments and success stories.

I am cyber-superman!
I am cyber-superman!

Please, stop bragging and start helping.

It’s demotivating your fellow students. It spoils the experience of the people coming after you. It’s not helping at all. It definitely didn’t help me. It made me nervous when preparing myself, when I was struggling with certain parts or topics.

Don’t get me wrong. Was the course you took really terrible? Objectively bad? By all means, tell folks out there, so they do not make the same mistake. Save them money and effort. Tell them that it was your mistake to choose the course in the first place.

It’s actually really simple, stay on the honest side.

Was the course useful or even awesome? You passed the exam with flying colors? Awesome, let yourself feel the pride. Go ahead, share your results. But showcasing should only be part of the game. Here comes the more important part.

Be helpful, share how you achieved these results. Don’t just go boasting around how you’re “cyber-superman”.

Give practical advice and thank the people who helped you along the way. There always are other people helping with the process some way or another.

The skill of passing exams vs. real skills

Back to the toxic statements. First, you cannot, ever, learn too much! Saying that is ridiculous in itself. Also, passing an exam can be achieved with multiple strategies. Did you really grasp the concepts? Are you able to apply the factual knowledge? Or could you — being honest with yourself — not even spell out the answers by yourself if there wasn’t the correct multiple choice answer somewhere to select? Think about it…

I did. I’ve definitely been guilty of passing exams I had no idea about in school. And it makes sense. Not every subject is going to be interesting to you. Some tests are just part of what you have to do to reach a bigger goal.

But I’m not talking about mandatory school. We’re talking about proper education here.

Don’t play down your own effort to appear more intelligent.

You post about courses you chose to do of your own free will, maybe paying for it yourself and doing it in your free time.

Therefore, it should also be in your own interest not to post such toxic things. By doing so, you are devaluing your own achievement.

Or even worse, you’re showing that you were only after the certificate and didn’t care about the knowledge and skills to be gained in the process. How will that reflect on your personality when using said certificate to justify your skill set for a job?

Are you struggling?

Thank you for reading so far.

Perhaps, you’re on the way to complete some challenging course or certification yourself. You believe it’s helping you grow, but you struggle. You go looking on the internet for help.

You’re doing it for the right reasons. Even if you fail the test, you will have gained more from the challenge than the previously mentioned authors. So what if you fail? You will know exactly what you were missing to ace it on the second try. Good luck to you!

You come across toxic articles. Do not read on. Close it. Forget about it. Carry on. You’re growing, of course it’s a struggle.

No pain, no gain!
No pain, no gain!

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Markus Mächler

Cybercrime and Cryptocurrency Investigator with a Natural Science Background