This article was published on the website of the European Association of Communication Directors (EACD)
It is all around us. All day, all night (like the song goes…). While our cookies serve us the content we supposedly expect to be served, it is undeniable how the so-called “motivational content” pervades our scrolling thumb, whether it is on Instagram, TikTok or Linkedin. While with different nuances per each platform, the “do more or you’re useless” type of content is omnipresent today.
Leadership, mentoring, getting better, outshining, doing more, sleeping less, making more money. While the business of up-lifting is undebatably positive for society and for individuals, the establishment of impossible vital and human KPIs is seriously creating the opposite effect, hence contributing to creating more anxiety, depression and regret to “scrollers.”
Extremely well curated polished content is not real life, at least not for most of us who can’t afford a graphic designer, a video maker, a make up artist, a social media manager and a PR representative that gets us interviews and gigs to tell the “plebs” how they succeeded and how they should pull themselves up their bootstraps, otherwise they are utter failures.
Picture yourself at the end of the day. You woke up, got dressed, prepped for work, worked hard, ate within a specific interval of time, prepped your work for the next day, commuted, and run to maybe get food for you and your family to finally get home.
Perhaps stressed, perhaps happy, perhaps a little burnt out, perhaps uncaring, you have a peek at your socials to release your mind, just to be reminded that if you haven’t worked out for two hours, run your side-hustle, invested in stocks, generated passive income, regimented your intermittent fasting, gone vegan and got your chakras aligned, you are a miserable failure, and for sure the guy who’s telling you that already knows that you hate your life and you are stuck (contrarily to him) in a place you don’t wanna be.
Funny enough, all of this content is uber popular only in the wealthiest parts of the world where we forget, way too often, how good we have it.
I’ve been in communication analysis for over a decade and I seriously worry of the effects that the supposedly “motivational content” business is doing to us.
What can we do about it?
Go on a break with your phone. I’m currently trying to follow the instructions of the amazing “How to Break Up with Your Phone” guide. There’s seriously nothing good from spending any time linked up to unrealistic motivational entertainment on your latest iPhone. It pollutes your brain and takes time away from people that matter in reality, not virtually. Technology is extremely useful, as long as it serves a purpose, not takes away “life purpose.” Spoiler alert: this is not an easy thing to do when on the other side of the screen you have teams of algorithm specialists that dedicate their working hours to hook you up to your scrolling feed. Therefore, accept that such behavioral change won’t happen overnight, nor easily.
Adjust your feed. “Purpose” is the keyword. Eliminate toxic accounts that produce toxic content from your toxic feed and think carefully about which accounts give you value rather than anxiety. This is very personal advice but you know the answer better than anyone. Spring cleaning your feed is time well-spent.
Accept that resilience is about how you recharge, not how you endure. Working adults have a fundamental misunderstanding of what it means to be resilient. Yes, resilience involves working hard, but it also requires one to stop, recover, and then begin the hard work again. Recovery is key to maintaining good health, but also preventing lost productivity. Instead of falsely recharge you, binging on motivational content during a burnout will give you more anxiety, fatigue and regret. It will be hard to let that phone go, but it’s crazy worth it.
Redefine purpose. Redefining your life purpose is often a means of redefining your life trajectory. Motivational content is hyper focused on money, assets, performance or impossible aesthetics. While that can work for some incredible individuals, our real purpose is personal, spiritual and tailored to us. You don’t need to fit in the purpose stereotype scale. You need to find your own, in your own personal way.
Life is not linear. We should work, be healthy, keep active, get knowledge as well as loiter a little bit, enjoy what we have, and spend quality time with people that matter to us. We must accept that some days are great, and others aren’t, and not because an “influencer” (I hate this word), that we don’t know tells us otherwise, that we should even care.
To sum up, motivational content is to be taken in drops otherwise it becomes demotivational for no good reason, and in our frenzied times of digital pervasiveness, it’s the last thing we need.