Social media influencers, self help gurus, spiritual teachers and life coaches are pretty much everywhere these days.
If you’re into personal development at all, chances are high that your feed is filled with voices of people telling you how to live your life, how to set your mind, how to eat your food and how to live in a way that connects you to God.
Chances are you’ve experienced a lot of people telling you that you can manifest your dream life, transcend or heal everything that ails you and that you can overcome all obstacles if you just follow this or that protocol, do this or that program or align your chakras in this or that way.
They sell their knowledge via their personal experiences - drawing us in with heart-felt stories, vulnerable shares, glossy photos and believable before and after images. They qualify themselves as experts based on what they say they are experiencing in their own lives - and they hook us in with all kinds of para-social relating that goes deep into our need to feel seen, heard and understood that is often really lacking in our real lives.
They convince us that they really DO have the secrets to life, they appear to have the proof in their lived experience, so when they turn around and tell us that they can teach us how to get the same results if we just join their program/mastermind/coaching - we’re willing to pay the $444.44 to be enlightened.
With that, we’re coming to see how a LOT of these people have been selling a dream that was just that - a dream. Not real. A fantasy.
We’re seeing so many people ‘exposed’ as not actually having the lives they said they had, as having used tools and resources and methods of achieving results that aren’t actually available to anyone and of simply not actually being happy with what they were doing at all.
We’re seeing as the reality that a lot of the self help world is based on people who had SO much more resources, time, access and privilege than the people they’re talking to, meaning their tools worked FOR THEM because they weren’t facing the same kind of obstacles as the people they’re supposedly now trying to serve.
We’re getting duped, and no matter how much we try to call it out, it just keeps happening.
So for the next few weeks, I want to take a deep dive into a SOBER look at what we’re ACTUALLY seeing with most of these self help/spirituality teacher folks, what we should be looking for in terms of defending ourselves against scammy grifters, how to spot what’s ACTUALLY of value vs. what’s just more noise and how to tell if something someone is selling is actually going to apply to YOU or not.
It’s a messy, murky world out there - but there IS some true goodness to be found.
Let’s dive deep into the problems, and then the solutions so we can be more empowered as we interact.
Social Media Changed The World
Social media has made SO many awesome things possible.
It’s given us the capacity to connect with others in a way that we never would have pre-internet and pre-’anyone can build a platform ’- use of the internet.
It’s given us the ability to connect with people who DO have REAL solutions to the problems we’re facing in our lives. It’s given us resources, it’s given us the gift of not feeling so isolated or like we’re the ‘only one’ who has whatever we have or who’s going through whatever we’re going through.
It’s provided people with opportunities to learn skills they never would have been able to learn otherwise. It’s given people the ability to gain new perspectives on life and all the different ways we can live successfully. It’s opened the door for dialogue that again has helped people humanize groups of people they once saw as ‘other’ and therefore bad/wrong/weak/scary.
Most pertinent to our conversation here today, it’s provided a space for those who have deep knowledge in areas of healing, life transformation, mental health and spiritual growth to share that knowledge with a wide audience. An audience that may not have had access to the life changing information where they live. Who may never have had the funds to be in the room with someone with this information. An audience whose lives can absolutely be helped in significant ways by strangers on the internet sharing their personal stories, their education and their tools and techniques into these little hand computers we all have now.
It’s truly incredible and something I think all of us can take a step back and realize just how lucky we are to be living in a time where all of these resources are so readily available at the click of a button.
At the same time, we also have to take into account that this miracle of sharing information is happening within the context of our capitalist system that is inherently corrupted, and it’s happening in a world where not all people are honest, not all people have positive intentions and not all people are capable of being responsible with their shares.
Information Sharing Means Misinformation Sharing
We’re experiencing this boon of information sharing in a world where there are little to no checks and balances in terms of what can be shared, when it can be shared, how it can be shared, or in terms of ‘fact checking’ to see if what’s being shared is actually true, actually helpful or if it’s anything more than someone selling an image/opinion/limited perspective.
Mainstream media, alternative media and social media have ALL created a platform for literally anyone from public officials to private business owners to regular folks to share their narratives of the world - and again, we live in a world where so much of what we’re told is skewed in some way to serve the person sharing the information. We live in a world where it’s SO EASY to craft a narrative and to use all sorts of evidence to support that narrative, to force perspective and to lie by omission. We’re waking up to the fact that official bodies have been doing this for centuries - and media has become a place where people ARE speaking truth to power in important ways. But at the same time, there are many out there who have their own selfish motivations and are simply using the same playbook as the people they’re supposedly liberating us from to suit THEIR needs.
We’re currently living in a world where we’re seeing the very real consequences of our systems, of how deeply we’ve been lied to and manipulated by those who used to have total power over information sharing, and how they have caused harm to many, many people. We’re seeing the desperation, mistrust and pain that the systems have created bubbling over. We’re seeing a rise in the awareness that something isn’t right, something isn’t fair, something isn’t working - and on the tails of this we’re being told that the system is fine, how things are is fine - and it’s US that needs to change if we want something better.
On the tails of that, we’re also seeing a rise in people coming up to tell us that the system is flawed, that what the mainstream tells us isn’t true, and that we must rebel - but then are turning around and selling us the EXACT same system just dressed up as something different, more liberated ane more aware.
We’re living in a time where people are really feeling the strain that our system puts on our humanity - we’re feeling chronically burnt out, we’re working hard but aren’t able to reach the levels of safety or security we want, we’re safe and secure but also feel like nothing we do is ever enough, we’re anxious, we’re depressed, we’re afraid for our futures - and rather than seeing a system that’s perpetuating these negative outcomes so that those at the top can profit - we’re being gaslit into believing that the SOLUTION to all of above issues is to self improve. To try harder. To heal more. To get more grounded, more productive, more focused - so that we can be more successful in what we’re being told is a perfect system.
The mainstream narrative has ALWAYS been that we live in a free and fair system where everyone who works hard and makes the right choices can expect to thrive - and this is simply not reality. In real reality we live in a totally unfair system that is designed to profit those who own the means of production as maximally as possible, while the working class fights it out to see who gets to survive, who gets to work for luxury and who gets to be deemed worthy enough to have safety.
Then in that struggle, we are blamed for our unhappiness, our addictions and coping mechanisms, for our lack of meaningful connections, for our inability to find stability, for our inability to continue leveling up - again as though we are simply the ones failing in the system instead of seeing that this system is failing us.
We’re being sold over and over again that the solution to our pain is to become more productive, or if that doesn’t work, to consume more.
We’re being told over and over again that if we aren’t happy in the system, that’s on us - because the system works. The system is right. Consume and produce. That’s the way. If that doesn’t work for you - change yourself.
When in reality, we have a system that’s designed to siphon as MUCH profit as possible to the top of the pyramid, so those who are there can dole out wealth and abundance upon a select few who help perpetuate the myth of individual success via working hard, while the rest of the middle class is taught to sell more and more of their humanity to try to make it in the system and those who are left behind are scapegoated as being the reason why we should all fall in line, lest we end up like THOSE people, and are exploited for their labor, are imprisoned and punished in a way that fully denies THEM their humanity - and that’s what we call ‘normal life.’
With the message perpetually sent being ‘work harder, try more, make yourself more valuable to the system and all of your problems will be solved. It’s all on you, so fix it yourself by fixing yourself.’
Because if we were to see the truth - the truth that what we have isn’t DESIGNED for human health, isn’t designed for human thriving, isn’t designed for human happiness and isn’t designed for humans to have a full, expressed life THAT would cause a collapse of the whole thing - because there are more of us than there are of them, and if we stopped participating it couldn’t keep going.
We must be perpetually convinced that the problem lies with us, in order for this whole thing to work.
Which is why the self help industry is a multi BILLION dollar industry.
It’s part of the circus.
Yet it’s being sold as the antidote.
Our systems hurt, and we’re being lied to when we’re told that it’s because WE suck - but we don’t realize we’re being lied to because this idea of everything being because of us, is the water we’re swimming in.
Enter, Self Help
Which leads to a WHOLE bunch of people looking for tools to ‘fix’ what was never broken about them.
It leads to droves and droves of people who believe their anxiety, their struggle to make ends meet, their depression, their physical illnesses, their perpetual states of feeling inadequate and in lack, their lack, their ‘character flaws’, their lack of ability to form ‘normal and acceptable’ identities and relationships is all their fault, their failing and a sign that they need to change who they are.
It leads to a whole bunch of negative emotions and habits that lead people to believe that they have ‘bad parts of self’ and ‘bad emotions’ that they need to transcend or get rid of so that they can finally be happy and free.
It leads people into excessive consumption and production as those are the only two solutions our system sells because those are the two things that keep the system going - and then to people who blame themselves for the negative consequences of that excess.
It leads people to searching for solutions to their pain that have nothing to do with the cause - and it’s opened up this massive market for people to get on board with the messaging that if we are hurting the solution is self help.
And wouldn’t you know it, we have an influencer, coach, guide, teacher, spiritual guru and healer for each and every single one of the above pain-points.
Who can teach you how to heal, transcend and grow so that you too can get on with doing exactly what the system asks of you - just without the pain.
Our influencers are capitalizing on this misunderstanding that our natural REACTIONS to an out of alignment system are a problem we need to fix in ourselves, hand over fist.
Let’s take a break here, and come back for part two next week!