In case you missed it, please go read Part One of this Series.
We’re going deeper today, so you will want to have read that first!
The Gurus Are Selling Us A Ticket To Freedom That Aligns With Our Systems Of Bondage
The world is now FILLED with social media ‘experts’ ready and willing to sell you their ‘secrets’ to abundance, health, happiness, perfect relationships, million dollar careers, fulfillment, spiritual enlightenment and transcendence from all sorts of pain.
They’re selling us coaching, self improvement methods, podcasts on how to be more productive, telling us that abundance is possible for everyone if you just ‘align with your purpose’, that anyone can transcend any mental or physical heal issue with this or that tool or supplement - over and over again pushing this message that if we just fix ourselves enough, we will find that life becomes a blissful joyride.
The WAY they are selling us these things is through personal testimony, bright instagram photos, ‘day in the life vlogs’, emotionally connecting ‘vulnerable shares’ about their past struggles and how they overcame them and through generally pulling at our heart strings and pushing on our ‘pain points’ then promising us perfect solutions.
We believe them oftentimes because they can so easily make it LOOK like what they are saying is true - all because social media makes it possible to curate any image we want - if we have enough time and energy at our disposal.
They make the cultural narrative look TRUE.
I was in a terrible place before.
I took personal action to fix myself.
It worked and I’m happy now.
Look at my shiny life.
But also I’m just like you #relatable.
Meaning, we’re living in a world where a LOT of people are selling a LOT of lies or simply products and services that at best don’t work and at worst actually exacerbate or obfuscate the problems we’re facing as a humanity - and they’re having success doing so because as consumers our perspectives have been warped so deeply that we can’t tell fact from fiction, and because it’s - you guessed - profitable for those who are at the top.
We’re starting to see this. Many people are seeing through the lies, the deception, the manipulative marketing and the straight up gas-lighting that a lot of these influencers are using to sell their stuff - and it’s being called out.
This is awesome and I hope it continues.
At the same time, I feel like rather than trying to ‘call out’ individual people, trying to cancel people, trying to figure out ‘who are the good ones and who are the bad ones’ - it’s going to be FAR more effective to take a look at the SYSTEMS we’re living in, to have a deeper understanding of what ACTUALLY hurts about the reality we’re living in, to get a clear picture on the TACTICS social media influencers use to sell their stuff that doesn’t work and gaining a clear understanding on what to look for in terms of what DOES actually work.
Having the capacity to critically think about all forms of social media we engage with is a MUCH better strategy than trying to name names. Because so long as our mindsets as consumers stays the same, we can cut the head off of one influencer, but the market will remain and thus three more influencers will pop up to replace the one we cut down.
If we want to protect ourselves, we have to think in terms of systems, we have to be aware of the whole picture, and we have to apply our awareness to each individual case - that’s how we’re going to change things.
So let’s dive deep into the system, what’s not working, why it’s causing us a lot of our issues, and why self help is usually NOT the answer we think it is, why we get hooked by people who seem so honest, how to tell if an influencer can actually help YOU with their advice and how to find the people who DO have practical tools that can impact your day to day life in a positive way.
Influencer Marketing Is Happening In An ‘Invisible’ Flawed System
Before we dive deep into the influencer side of things, I feel like it’s important to zoom out a bit and really get a grasp on what we’re dealing with in our current systems.
The truth is, the real reason a lot of us feel so anxious, depressed, stressed out, overwhelmed, like we’re failing or doing something wrong, like we can’t get a handle on our health or finances or relationships, is NOT because we’re lacking in discipline, don’t know some ‘secret’ or otherwise because we’re doing something wrong/failing on some level.
Rather, we have to understand that we are all existing within a system that makes it very, very difficult for most people to find a BALANCED way of life. Then, even if we are ABLE to find a balanced way of life, we’re constantly presented with the message that a balanced life is never good enough.
We live in a system where those who own the means of production set both the price of goods and services as well as deciding what people are going to be compensated with for their labor. We live in a system where ‘the people’ (so to speak) have very little say in how the day to day operations of society and especially work culture go, because we are dependent upon those who OWN the resources we need for those resources AND we are dependent upon those who own the resources for jobs to pay for the resources we need.
You see the loop here.
The owners of the means of production have an incredible amount of power because society is essentially dependent upon them.
With this power, they are able to influence not only how we are going to work, when we are going to work, what we are going to get for our work, what kind of education we have access too, where goods and resources will be distributed, who has access to what and when - they are also able to tip the scales of government, education, medicine and all other forms of infrastructure in society in whatever direction they see fit.
They get to decide what’s going to be available, where it will be available, how it will be transported, how it will be manufactured, how it will be stored, what it will cost and who will get to do the work to create it.
They get to decide how people are resourced - which has a HUGE impact on the choices people are ABLE to make for themselves. They get to decide who is and who isn’t valued by society - which again has a MAJOR impact on someones capacity to build a sustainable life for themselves.
They rig the game before anyone has even begun - and then tell us that we all have equal opportunity and capacity so if we are failing, just look to the people who are succeeding and feel bad about yourself - don’t ever look to how those people may have been given tools you didn’t get, support you never had and opportunities you’ll never see in your lifetime.
We are living in a system where it can certainly appear that we have a lot of free will choice - and to a degree we do - but to think that we all have perfect freedom to simply make our lives amazing whenever we want is to totally misunderstand the systems we’re living in.
If we take a step back, it’s pretty clear that those who are dictating how and when society will get the resources it needs aren’t creating systems that are equitable and that have the best interests of the people at heart.
It’s All About MAXIMUM PROFIT Not Human Thriving
Rather, we see a system where everything is designed to generate MAXIMUM profit for those at the top. The entire ethos of our system is maximum growth, wealth generation and power pooling at the top - no matter who or what needs to be sacrificed in order for this to happen.
These practices include using environmentally unsustainable protocols to produce and distribute resources because they are faster and cheaper than more environmentally friendly ones. It means destroying large portions of our natural world on a daily basis to make room for industry. It means sacrificing worker safety, health, mental health, work life balance and general well being in order to generate maximum production with as little ‘overhead’ cost as possible. It means outright sabotage of worker unionization so that the people can’t organize and consulate their power. It means driving up the cost of products that owners know people can’t live without in a totally predatory way.
It means creating a kind of ‘class system’ where in order to have access to wealth or upwards mobility you have to ALREADY have access to wealth and upwards mobility. It means living in a world where education, access to resources and access to the people and things that would allow people to make better lives for themselves is reserved for the few. It means a completely unequal distribution of resources. It means keeping certain populations in a perpetual state of poor access/antagonization so that their labor can be exploited and their poor living conditions can be scapegoated as the ‘reason society is terrible’ so that none of us look to the actual SYSTEMS at play. It means a that there MUST be a section of society that is ALWAYS feeling insecure/being antagonized so that there will always be workers ready and willing to make whatever sacrifices to their health and life they need to make so that they can have a basic job - and sometimes those basic jobs don’t even pay a living wage. Meaning those who AREN’T willing to sacrifice themselves will find that they are easy to replace - this means that people are constantly CHOOSING to allow themselves to be disrespected by employers because the only other option is to lose their job entirely.
Work culture is set up so that people are constantly having to work harder, longer and in less favorable conditions in order to survive - and the more competition there is for ‘good jobs’ the more those who work in lower positions can be exploited.
Then, we’re indoctrinated into believing that those who are making adequate money or who are making more than enough are because they are ‘more valuable’ than those who aren’t. We are trained to see those who are wealthy as ‘better people.’ As people who work harder, smarter, better than everyone else. We’re trained to value wealth and power because those things are what give us the ability to live a good life in our system - and then we’re trained to see those who have those things as being inherently deserving of them.
When in reality, most wealthy people and people with power have those things because they were BORN into a situation where they had ACCESS to wealth and power.
We’re indoctrinated into believing that we live in a free and fair society where everyone can pursue happiness in the same way - but in reality this is FAR from true. We are taught that those who give the most value to the system are rewarded with the most wealth and luxury - and there could literally be no grander lie.
In our society, we have people working jobs that are 100% necessary for the functioning of society - such as teachers, nurses, cleaning staff, those who transport, stock and bag our groceries and those who maintain our infrastructure making little more than enough to get by, or worse, less than enough. These people work MORE than full time hours often, and yet receive little to no benefits, little to no social safety nets, and again, generally don’t make enough for a stable life and often have to sacrifice their health and happiness for their jobs.
On the flip side we have people like share holders, entertainers, athletes and other completely non-essential tasks doing people making money in amounts most of us can’t even conceptualize. They don’t work harder than anyone else, and generally speaking they offer nothing to society - but here they are making MORE than their fair share. On top of that, they tend to live lifestyles that COST society a LOT. They are the ones who are relying upon exploited labor, nature exploitation, animal exploitation, poverty and the insecurity of the rest of society to maintain their positions of power and wealth. They are directly COSTING society a future - and that is WHY they are rich.
It’s not that the harm being caused is some separate issue where their wealth is concerned. Rather the harm being caused is the REASON they are wealthy the way that they are wealthy. The ONLY reason they are as rich and as powerful as they are is BECAUSE they are sacrificing the lives of their workers, of nature and of society in general.
We are conditioned to believe that poverty is a choice or that not making ends meet is a sign of poor character. We are trained to see scarcity and insecurity as a threat that we must avoid at all costs by working harder, putting in more hours, sacrificing more of ourselves because that’s exactly how the rich stay so rich without the people rising up and trying to overturn the system.
Those who are the wealthiest in our society are not, by any stretch of the imagination, more worthy of that wealth because they are contributing more to society than everyone else. In fact, the reality is the exact opposite. Our wealthiest people are generally speaking the MOST selfish, MOST destructive.
Then we are sold that the antidote to all of our pain and suffering is luxury.
That the solution to our insecurity, fear, lack and feelings of isolation are going to come through having more wealth so we can buy more things.
Which of course, is only true to a POINT. It’s TRUE that having our basic needs met with a little extra cushion makes a MASSIVE difference in terms of quality of life. Having reasonable access to safe shelter, food, health care, and a reasonable chance at upwards mobility in society in any area where we aren’t fully safe can mean the difference between living under constant stress and being able to breathe.
It’s true that having a little MORE than you ‘need’ is again, something that will improve your life experience. Having the space and time to pursue hobbies, to connect with friends and family, to travel if that’s something you want to do - all of these things make for the opportunity to feel a deep sense of life satisfaction.
But beyond that, we don’t tend to find that actual happiness increases, nor do we tend to find that feelings of security or safety increase. In fact, in many cases the more we’re pushing ourselves to achieve that which goes beyond this ‘simple’ lifestyle, the more we’re setting ourselves up for INCREASED feelings of dissatisfaction, having to sacrifice what’s really important in life to keep accumulating, having to deny our humanity and the destruction that’s required to reach for these heights of wealth and the more we find people become more selfish, and even fearful.
We see those with the most in our culture living what appear to be ‘amazing’ happy lives, but in real reality they tend to be more miserable than we would ever want to believe.
But that doesn’t stop us from idolizing what they have, and fantasizing about what it would be like to have what they have and to live how they live.
And it doesn’t stop our capitalist society from continually SELLING that more is always better, that more will make us happier and that the only reason we ever don’t feel good is because we have or because we ARE too little.
Let’s take another break here, and come back for part three next week 🙂