In the modern world if you question the lack of ethics, absence of morality or the scarcity of good sense of something, some claim, some recommendation or some piece of advice, especially if confronts or compromises the status quo, the wilfully ignorant and content and the obtuse conformists, then more often than not you will be labelled as a negative person, a mischief maker and a member of the awkward squad.
The predominant mantra of our times is that the sky is the limit and the world is our oyster. Which is all very well if one is equipped to take advantage. But many people in this world don’t have that good fortune, and not even an ingenious book or a smart-arse blog article will radically change their possibilities.
In this Post-modern neo-liberal world where the myths reign that anything can be anything, and that anybody can be anything, to question the theocracy, the dogma and the conventional wisdom of the day is to simply ask for trouble. We too can stand on the shoulders of giants, if only, for example, we can free our minds.
But let’s face it, unless you actually are Roger Federer, Warren Buffet or Larry Ellison, you are not really going to be like any of them, even in a million years, no matter how many positive, reassuring and motivational books and blog articles you read. And if anyone tells you any different, then, to put it mildly they are being economical with the truth.
Which leads me to the fact that there is a whole global ‘service’ industry dedicated to the business of giving people advice.
Brick and mortar bookstores continue to carry a surfeit of self-help books. Titles such as ‘Transform your socks, energise your life”, ‘Thrivival is not a dirty word” and ‘Earn the right to retch” adorn the imagination and the bookshelves, and oil the wheels of the economy.
The internet is awash with articles and lists, some hide behind pay-walls, most are free.
There is in fact a plethora of artefacts telling us what to avoid, what to embrace, what to suspect, how to get rich, how to be ourselves, how to be like someone else, what to do and not do, in our personal, public and professional lives.
We live in complex, confusing and ambiguous world of contradictions, uncertainty and doubt. Our cultures are controlled by big business, and they are free to contaminate it with wisdom, knowledge or nonsense, so they generally go for the cheaper option.
Modern life’s ‘rich’ tapestry, its contradictions, its alienation, its solitude and its refined callousness are reasons why there is such a craving for knowledge, for answers, a frequently desperate craving for someone – almost anyone – to answer questions such as: What can I do to make sense of all of this? Where did I go wrong, where do I go right? Can you help me, please?
We seek empathy, complicity and authenticity. We desperately search out the truth, beauty and justice, and love. Some of us abandon our quests early, some later, however, some of us never give up hope.
On a professional level we are mostly left to our own devices when it comes to charting a course for our career, and balancing the necessity of work with the search for a decent, fruitful and satisfying life. Sound advice out there when it comes to career development, but far too much of the ‘guidance’ is either erroneous, over-simplistic or damn-right misleading. The principle cause of which is the ignorance and arrogance of the writer, who can frequently extrapolate a little knowledge and a lot of naiveté into a large and risk fraught lie – and the intentionality, lack of it, is of little interest to those damaged by such bad advice.
Whilst I admit that there are some very knowledgeable and experienced writers in this space who would balk at even the thought of playing charlatan to people’s psychological needs, there are plenty of people who are quite happy to play with people’s emotions, and even people’s careers, love life and health, because they simply can’t stop themselves from trying to come across as being wiser, more informed and more experienced than they in fact are.
It’s not just about the money, which is perhaps understandable, even if it is somewhat unethical, unacceptable and dubious. In my view the worst offenders are the mendacious, unprincipled and toxic charlatans that do it for free, and to make matters worse, many perpetrators are so ignorant of the facts, and so caught up their own ego, that they fail to see their own toxic self for what it is, and are therefore unable to change their own ‘wicked ways’.
The truth of the matter is that will never be a position where we can all entirely avoid toxic advice, but we can become far more aware of its existence and learn to be far more critical in our thinking. Also, if we shift the responsibility of toxic advice from the consumer to the supplier, then at least we can start to curtail the excessive and undesired aspects of social inhibition that riddles the internet and the media.
So just remember this. Deceiving vulnerable people with bullshit and playing fast and loose with their fundamental emotions is never clever, funny or intelligent, whether one does it for money, power, publicity, love, religion, politics or for free.
Thank you for reading.
In subsequent blog pieces I will be sharing my views on the evolution of information management in general, and the incorporation novel and innovative techniques, technologies and methods into well architected mainstream information supply frameworks, for primarily strategic and tactical objectives.
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