Generic Inspiration? No Thanks.

Positivity. It’s a good thing if you have it, enjoy it, and make the most of the sunny outlook. But you know what? You don’t need it. The internet is awash with people trying to spread happiness and joy through uplifting blog posts, or ‘inspirational’ quotes from people who have enjoyed success. There are blog posts written that are dedicated to the idea that there’s never anything wrong with anyone, you’re all totally perfect. Well done on being wonderful human beings, revel in the deluded nonsense these people are spewing. They’ll say there’s nothing wrong with being fat, when what they mean is try not to be fat, because other people are going to look down on your for it. How do we know that this advice is not sincere? Because if there truly was nothing wrong with it then it wouldn’t be mentioned. If someone has to convince people there’s nothing wrong with something they are or do then that’s not going to be widely accepted. People don’t give advice on things that aren’t in some way wrong. And that’s fairly self-explanatory. Advice is what you follow if you want to improve something, not if it’s already fine.

Oh, you have views that conflict with the majority of society? Fine, that’s wonderful. Do you need to be told that that’s fine? No, of course you don’t. You have an opinion; you’ve held it all your life without giving it a second thought. One day you’re trawling through lists of blog posts when one tells you not to feel bad about thinking that. All of a sudden you begin to wonder what was wrong with that view, why do people have to fight against those who have different views in order to quietly hold their own? They don’t. Of course there are cases when these need to be spoken about, the suffrage movement was all about opinions being shared, often forcefully. Even things like recycling. 50 years ago almost no one recycled, now almost everyone does, because people who thought it was necessary put across that view in order to push through change in society. That sort of outspokenness of opinion is fine. However, it’s the smaller things that get my goat. I read a post recently pioneering the idea that people who say they don’t want kids who then are met with a condescending “Oh, you’ll change your mind” should “just kick them in the shins”. NO! (and I’m not taking issue at the violence, that’s clearly sarcasm for comic effect). I’ve never had any experience of anyone actually reacting particularly strong on either side of that situation. Humans are biologically inclined to reproduce, that’s a fact. Some people choose not to have children, that’s equally true. There’s not a thing wrong with either side, so why bring it up? The article is about things people shouldn’t be ashamed of anymore. If you’re ashamed of not wanting kids, fine, be ashamed, if you’re not, don’t be ashamed, but don’t let someone tell you whether to be ashamed of it or not. That’s just another opinion being thrown at a situation which, judging by the author’s inclusion of it, has enough conflicting opinions already

Then there are those people who just love inspirational quotes. Muhammad Ali is always a favourite, his quotes being used to champion the idea that hard work is all one needs in order to become incredibly successful. Firstly, hard work is almost never the only reason for success, ability is equally as important. I could work as hard as anyone’s ever worked to become a professional basketball player, but at 5’8” it’s just not possible. Newton could’ve tried for decades to work out why people don’t float around, but had he never sat under an apple tree, he may never have nailed the theory of gravity. Not only are there other contributors to success, but sometimes hard work has nothing to do with it. Take Katie Price. She seemingly has no idea of hard work, but through a disdain for privacy and a love of cosmetic surgery she’s become a superstar. Or some random reality TV star who’s found fame through allowing their stupidity to be showcased on some soul-destroying televisual vomit like Jersey Shore. Paris Hilton, famous for being born to her particular father. You could be successful through hard work, luck, natural ability or a combination of all the above.

Quotes from celebrities are all well and good, Oscar Wilde has some corkers, Mark Twain came out with some fun ones. JRR Tolkien’s “Not all who wander are lost” is lovely. But they’re probably not applicable to you. Some person talking about how they did well at something is not instructions for you on how to do the same thing. You want individuality and you want to be able to directly replicate the achievements of others? Pick one, and stop living your life by arbitrary collections of letters plucked from people who care more about finding a grey chest hair than they do about your entire existence.

To conclude this slightly angry piece of writing, you might well be a lovely person, but it’s not guaranteed. Does the ‘everybody’s fine the way they are’ philosophy apply to Anders Breivik? Would Mugabe be a fairer leader if some shirtless teen boy showed him a piece of paper telling him that it’s ok to feel sad sometimes? Were Taylor Swift and Colonel Gaddafi both spurred on by the same Mozart quotation? These quotes and nuggets of advice may act as pick-me-ups or muses to some, but don’t make more of them than they warrant.


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About Mark Dolan

Hello there, I'm Mark, a 21 year old English archaeology student. I write about various things; archaeology, musings on my life, and various bits of society that I have something to say about.

One response to “Generic Inspiration? No Thanks.”

  1. Earth Angel says :

    WOW…you have really helped a ton of people here… see that THEY ARE what THEY are looking for…love it…never will follow anyone..or act as if life is a bowl of cherries..thank you for your insights…. Heart to heart Robyn


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