When criticism comes up especially within the area of personal development, the response is often the suggestion to go enjoy oneself with some other distraction, instead of specifically looking at issues and problems that occur within the system. Thus when marketing, social media, and positive thinking are combined, the result is a wide-spread authoritarian control of ideas within the social network. The most acceptable ideas are those who allow people or corporations to profit via marketing, and by extension the great network of supporting notions of this ideology. This directly contradicts the common ideology of what social media means to the internet, people often rave about how it allows us so much more freedom than we had before, however I believe this to be a simple myth of the system.
Fortunately, there is a solution to this hidden authoritarian censorship buried deep within the trinity of marketing, social media, and positive thinking. The solution is to build a continual cycle of criticism within the social media environment. Criticism is a key part of the progression of thought, and as a result its general removal from social media and personal development has allowed things to spiral horribly out of control. Not only is criticism necessary, but we have a responsibility to it, else we are just building systems of dogma under the guise of progression. At that point, why bother?
Just discovered Beyond Growth and hope to see more posts there.
William S. Burroughs said he thought the world of Brave New World would be an improvement over the way we live now. I’m not sure about that, but if “positive thinking” were actually creating cults of ignorant but blissed out followers, then maybe that wouldn’t be so bad. But the reality may be that “self-help” is actually making people more depressed. And how could it not be depressing? As Michael Shermer explained “Surrounding SHAM is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault–your thoughts were not positive enough.” I’d be fucked if I believed that.
See past posts tagged with selfhelp.
Quick update: Here’s a good comment on the Beyond Growth post:
Maybe the key is to re-frame “criticism” for the positive thinking crowd? They routinely interpret criticism as negative, but it is ultimately positive: a process of unpacking, refinement and improvement on ideas (akin to the “scientific method”). How could it be anything other than positive?
In a sense, by resisting criticism, the positive thinking crowd negates its own worldview, which ultimately leaves it in a meaningless void, or alternatively exposes its worldview as something other than positive thinking (such as a strategy to secure capital and power).
This is a good idea, but one that can only work with those who are legitimately trying to improve people’s lives, not those for whom their blogs are mere sales funnels for products they know are utter shames. The latter will always shut down criticism because they know it’s bad for business.