“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. :)