The problem with writing is excessively self-referential writing, and the essence of that problem is the same as personal branding, and “thought leaders” — those who have truly succeeded at self-referential writing and personal branding. At some point a threshold is breached and the entire endeavor and culture supporting it becomes incredibly narcissistic.
It’s an op-ed piece on steroids. Anecdotal experience is infused with popular science, positive psychology and watered-down philosophy, often of the practical Roman or Eastern strains. These writer reference each other to give the illusion of credibility. They appear on each other’s podcasts. Read each other’s books.
But there is nothing new in all this. These ideas have been written about far better long ago throughout the worlds literary and philosophical traditions. “Self-help” whether deep and philosophically profound or light and popular has changed much because humans haven’t changed much. The difference is that NOW you can achieve some fame and notoriety NOW, rather than after you die.
There’s a demand for this kind of writing. There is a demand for popular thought leaders just like popular actors and musicians. Something palpable, that’s easy to digest.
But great writing isn’t just about style, or form. That is too subjective anyway. It’s also about content. The subject. Otherwise it’s narcissistic, syntactical masturbation.