(… and help to regrow hair on your head!)
“What’s always going to grab eyeballs on LinkedIn or any other social view-sharing platform,” observed my friend who is the India HR head for a large multinational corporation, “is content around rearing kids or any type of self-help… howsoever random and drivel!”
That’s an interesting thought. I’m not going to comment on the child-rearing content part – though I may have been guilty of clicking on anything that promises me insight into becoming a more effective parent (and more often than not been disappointed or shocked at what all is proposed!) – but the aspect on self-help and people’s desire to better their lives through following a capsule recommendation is an interesting observation. There is strangely limited critique of such self-help content - blogs suggesting ‘winning’ habits, sure-shot-success daily routines, the most magical brain-stimulating diets and shakes, the successful way to write your mails, how to handle escalations/manage teams/manage supervisors, best career tracks at any age in your life, and any millions of other possible topics – all get substantial views and are most likely to acquire viral status.
So why have we become so needy?
- Our definitions of success are increasingly becoming more comparative. We need to compare ourselves with where others are at a point in time and measure our achievements in life through simplistic observations with those of others.
- Our desire for validation: Social media is a direct commentary on how people like to announce pretty much anything via ‘updates’, and the most convenient (and least exertion) feedback is a ‘like’ for providing endorsement. There isn’t any such one-click reaction declaring: ‘big deal’, or ‘good for you!’ or ‘this is plain ridiculous’. We’re encouraging a behaviour of mindless endorsement and that recursively fuels our desire for more.
- Cost of failure is high, or perceived to be high: While life spans have become longer, ironically the tolerance to write off one approach/perspective towards anything and changing tracks to start afresh is decreasing. People need step-by-step validation further locking in a specific approach adopted towards just about anything.
- We’re short of time to get ‘there’ in life: If a magic recipe or a prescriptive approach can deliver what ordinarily would require a greater deal of effort and dedication, then why not? When we were growing up, the mantra no-pain no-gain used to be the guiding principle in life. There was a perception that anything fought hard for was going to be more sustainable and give greater gratification. But today sustainability is not a consideration at all… neither in the micro aspects of life, nor in macro considerations. ‘Get Rich Quick’ techniques are extensively searched and furnished, but not many for ‘Stay Rich’; lots seek to ‘Get Thin’, less to ‘Stay that way’; lots try to ‘Keep your Spouse happy’, lesser interest in ‘how to be married for a lifetime’,
As a generation we’ve lost self-confidence and faith in our efforts yielding results. Getting to ‘be happy with what you have’ is increasingly more difficult and suddenly the first part of what my friend mentioned – pursuit of how to rear your child better – makes a lot more sense. When asked during my toddler’s school admissions process by distinguished looking school heads on how I would like my child to be, I seem to be mouthing fanciful yearnings for traits that are the exact antithesis what I am at this point in time! I would want my child to not grow on crutches of endorsements, take initiative based on his own convictions, have a distinct sense of the ‘self’, belief in his actions, and find contentment in the ‘now’. Hell, I would like to sign up for all this!!
Please don’t ‘Like’ this post… not only would that be ironical; I would also drown in the guilt of the pure pleasure it would give me. :)