Fake Good Vibes and Online Guruism
A thought, not the usual complaint, or… all that glitters is not gold.
We all know how it is. Some of us can even tell, after reading a headline, whether a piece is going to succeed online or not.
Listicles, some “revolutionary” life-hack articles, the latest trending topics, memes… These are some examples of content that works online. What do I mean by works? Hits and likes — engagement, the measure of it all. Or is it?
Every day these posts come to mock you from every corner. You can’t avoid clicking and reading some of them; for instance, the ones that will supposedly change your life in just eight simple steps and that, after reading them, will make you feel empowered like a superman (or superwoman); everything will suddenly become so easy that you won’t be able to even understand why we aren’t all top dogs already. Oh, well!
But, hey, no worries, an army of good-vibe gurus will come to your rescue when, after having followed their advices, you decide to jump… to finally find out there’s not net underneath to protect you from the fall.
But, I’m sorry to say, not everybody is (or can be) the top dog of the internet. What’s more important, not everybody wants to be the top dog of the internet. And even more so, top dogs of the internet are just as fallible as everybody else. Do they follow their own advice? Do they live their lives in the way they want the rest of the world to live? Or are they writing these things just because they know that’s what gives their articles the hits they need to maintain their guru status?
Is this real engagement or a one-hit wonder?
Do you believe that waking up really early and setting up a morning routine will make your problems vanish?
No eight-step morning routine will change your life.medium.com
Do you think that writing a book or trying to get someone to hire you to talk at an event will instantly turn you into a guru?
Oh, Jeff, you can’t imagine how much I’ve enjoyed reading your piece! Thanks for this! As I was reading it, I saw…medium.com
Do you really believe that everybody is living the same story as you are?
These three posts are answers to articles with amazing engagement; top-5 Medium posts. I couldn't agree less with their authors. I couldn't agree less with self-help stories that come in the shape of a magical pill that will make all your problems vanish forever once you swallow it. Life is way more complicated than these authors propose in their pieces.
But then again, we have a choice: writing for instant engagement figures or just to be ourselves.
If you choose to take the first way, congrats! You will soon be considered a guru. I'm not sure how that will serve you but, hey, being a guru is cool.
I've always preferred, nevertheless, the second way. The path to real engagement is longer and tougher than we can imagine. Sometimes it isn't rewarding, but at the end of the journey, you feel better.
Either way, we need to write with purpose. Do I write with a purpose? If yes, what’s that purpose? In fact, do I need to have a purpose? Who do I write for? Who’s my target? What do I expect from my writing? These are questions that sooner or later you’ll have to answer.
I could be writing life-hacking articles, but I prefer sharing life experiences or knowledge through thoughts on certain topics. I’d be lying if I told you I don’t pay attention to my stats, because I do. But the engagement of my posts is not what keeps me writing. Prostituting my writing would be eating tomorrow’s bread today. Because real engagement comes when people actually engage with your ideas, and not with easy-to-share content. I want people to come to my sites in search of inspiration, in search of a good idea or just because they like my pieces enough to keep coming back, because they like what they find here.
These people say they like how I describe their worlds. It’s not theirs, it’s mine that I’m describing. But life struggles are pretty much the same everywhere. However, not all that glitters is gold. What is true to me, might not be true to others, which is why I always like to illustrate my posts with actual examples.
I’ve been told lately that there are some agencies and people specializing in solving others’ messes. They write articles for them. You see? It is easy to know that a listicle works online, but as listicles are not for everybody, trouble arises when it comes to actually making content work for a certain company. Can you imagine a Museum of Fine Arts whose only online content consists of memes and gifs? I can’t. And in the same way, I can’t imagine a life fulfilled by following tips and tricks by the newest online guru.
Anyway, to contradict myself, I’ll end the reflection with a piece of advice; go out there, read a lot, contrast your ideas with someone else’s, re-elaborate in your own ways, make your decisions. That’s what life is all about, isn’t it?