29 July 2009

Turn offs

As i look around the blogosphere for new and interesting blogs, there are some things that turn me right off.

I do most of my blog surfing on MyBlogLog. I used to use BlogCatalog for that as well, but now they show blogs in an annoying frame, which you have to close to see the URL, which means reloading the page, with a consequent waste of bandwidth.

That's a turn-off in itself. I like to visit blogs whose owners have visited my blog -- if they find my blog interesting, there's a stronger possibility that I'll find theirs interesting. And if theirs is interesting, then people who visit their blog might have interesting blogs, and so on.

But it's a bit like travelling through a maze or a labyrinth -- doing that sometimes leads one down dead ends, and when that happens there is nothing for it but to go back and start over.

There are, however, some warning signs that indicate that a dead end is coming up -- key words that turn me off.

And some of these words are: entrepreneurship, marketing, self-help, self-improvement, personal development.

When I see those tags in a MyBlogLog blog listing, I don't even bother to look at the blog. I know it's going to be a boring dead end.

But there are a lot of blogs like that out there.

My son works in a book shop, and he tells me that the best-selling books are the self-improvement ones.

One of the most popular recent ones is called The Secret. More people seem to buy that than anything else, and from my son's description of the contents I gather its main purpose is to promote the "culture of entitlement" which is already the bane of our society. Its main message appears to be that the universe owes you a living, and you just need to be sufficiently assertive to persuade it to cough up.

A few years ago we went to his graduation at the Pretoria Technikon (now called the Tshwane University of Technology). He studied fine arts, and was a bit unenthusiastic when we said we would like to attend his graduation. When we did, we saw why.

The main speaker pronounced his pride in the institution's greatest achievement: it was the very first tertiary education institution in the world to include the word "entrepreneurship" in its mission statement.

And it went from bad to worse: the lights were dimmed, and the graduands all recited "The Entrepreneur's Creed" together in unison, like 8-year-olds reciting the multiplication tables -- the new secular religion for the masses.

Marketing, entrepreneurship, self-help and self-improvement are the biggest turn-offs I know.

But if you want to be a successful entrepreneur, just write and publish a self-improvement book. Marketing it is one of the easiest things in the world to do, because the demand is limitless.

Better still, write a book about how to write self-improvement books.


Aquila ka Hecate said...

I've got to agree, Steve.
The Secret in particular makes me want to run screaming, and I work alongside many people who have bought into its ultimately sefl-centred message - well, why wouldn't they?

It's All About Me is the subconscious mantra here.And no, not All About Me Being a Better Person, but Me Being a Better Consumer and a temporarily more comfortable human being. Aaarrrggh.

Shades of the Roman Empire on the brink of collapse.

Terri in Joburg

LJP said...

Good point. The ones writing the "How To" books are the ones making the $$

James Higham said...

Excellent post - Mybloglog are much less than impressive since the yahoo connection.

Yewtree said...

I have only ever read one book that even remotely falls into the category of self-help books: Families and How to Survive Them by John Cleese and Robin Skinner. I disagreed with the Freudian slant of the book but it was quite helpful in some ways.

I have noticed that people who do read them get a sort of far-away look in their eyes, and say "you must read this book, it'll change your life". Whenever anyone tells me that some quick fix will change my life, I get suspicious. Only serious spiritual work and commitment over a long period of time will actually change your life.

Chris Hall said...

Very good post Steve. I've dipped into one or two of these type of books and find the same core message of self, self, self.

I do tend to seem some parallels between these secular tomes and the concept of the 'prosperity gospel' within the broad spectrum of Christianity.

jams o donnell said...

Self destruction books seem to sell well too.. Look at most D-Listcelebrity autobiographies!

CherryPie said...

When looking for a book I much prefer, history, Political History, philosophy, different cultures/life views etc.

I suppose I look for the same things in blogs.


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