Shiny, Happy, Empty

Smiley emoticon businessman in front of a barcode
This is a post that I've wanted to write for a while, but have never really gotten around to trying to publish. I suppose it's time for me to stop putting it off.

I've been thinking again; as you should know if you know anything about me, this is a very bad thing. Happily, I've been turning my thoughts towards just why I hate motivational and inspirational things so much, as opposed to thinking about something actually useful (and therefore dangerous), like capitalism or war.

If you know me, it's probably not shocking to you that I have very little love for motivation and inspiration. And I'll admit something shameful to you now: even before I had legitimate grievances, I still mistrusted the people who exuded relentless positivity and cheer.

That probably makes a lot of you think that I'm a grumpy, blinkered, mistrustful cynic who's scared of change and wants to "stay a victim", in the terminology of many a positive thinker. Now, I don't doubt my grumpiness and my cynicism; I'm used to being a git who seems to be making a small career out of shattering people's deeply held beliefs. As for being blinkered, scared of change and wanting to stay a victim? I probably am blinkered - but then so is everyone else. I'm not scared of change. And frankly, being a victim is not the cushy bed of roses everyone seems to imagine it is.

I'm digressing, though; this was supposed to be a post about my exploring my dislike for pep talks and general inspirational wank, and I think I've hit upon the answer. Strangely (or perhaps not so strangely), it's the very thing that seems to attract other people to it.

It's taking all my energy not to add "like flies to shit" to that last sentence.


Anyway, most people seem to like motivation and inspiration for the unending cheer, the promise that they too can repair their failing relationship with their partner, break off that affair without a shitstorm, get that promotion at work so they can rake in even more cash, and not feel so disappointed that they're stuck in a soulless job because they wanted the money. They want happiness - and positive thinkers sell it to them.

Well, as an anti-capitalist I was bound to concentrate on the filthy lucre - but actually, that's not what bothers me most. What bothers me most is that these people never seem to get sad, or angry, or frustrated - or if they do, they probably hide it.

I don't claim to understand humanity very well at all, but if I understand anything it's that people's moods change. No-one is happy all the time. People who pretend to be are lying - and it's so scary. It's the emotional equivalent of the uncanny valley. And the people who lie about this perpetual positivity (note that I haven't mentioned happiness much; happiness is calmer, longer-lasting, more real) obviously don't do a very good job of dealing with the so-called "negative" emotions: sadness, anger and fear to name three. Indeed, quite a few essentially advocate sweeping them under the carpet to avoid losing friends as opposed to, you know, dealing with them openly and honestly if they're that much of a problem as opposed to a normal but unpleasant part of human experience.

And it's that one-sidedness, that desire to have only certain approved emotions, that scares me.


  1. I wouldn't want to be God on Judgement Day. The poor guy will be mostly just bored out of his mind, especially when he gets to the people of our times. Those people who did everything in their power to keep the Recording Angel's page pure white would get a roll of the eyes and an off-hand wave of dismissal from any Lord I would want to worship.


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