TagSelf-Help and Actualization Movement

Brave New Development


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?

Beyond Growth: Social Media: Moving Towards A Brave New World?

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.

The Self-Help and Actualization Movement has become an $8.5-billion-a-year business

From Scientific American columnist Michael Shermer:

The “over and over” part is the key to understanding the “why” of what investigative journalist Steve Salerno calls the Self-Help and Actualization Movement (SHAM). In his recent book Sham: How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless (Crown Publishing Group, 2005), he explains how the talks and tapes offer a momentary boost of inspiration that fades after a few weeks, turning buyers into repeat customers. While Salerno was a self-help book editor for Rodale Press (whose motto at the time was “to show people how they can use the power of their bodies and minds to make their lives better”), extensive market surveys revealed that “the most likely customer for a book on any given topic was someone who had bought a similar book within the preceding eighteen months.” The irony of “the eighteen-month rule” for this genre, Salerno says, is this: “If what we sold worked, one would expect lives to improve. One would not expect people to need further help from us–at least not in that same problem area, and certainly not time and time again.”

Surrounding SHAM is a bulletproof shield: if your life does not get better, it is your fault–your thoughts were not positive enough. The solution? More of the same self-help–or at least the same message repackaged into new products. Consider the multiple permutations of John Gray’s Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus–Mars and Venus Together Forever, Mars and Venus in the Bedroom, The Mars and Venus Diet and Exercise Solution–not to mention the Mars and Venus board game, Broadway play and Club Med getaway.

Full Story: Scientific American: SHAM Scam

(via 43 Folders).

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