Thanks, I think?

The problem is, even the small percentage of people writing on Medium who point out the hypocrisy and dishonesty of shyster content marketers are still writing about a shared experience.

The only difference is that we’re self-aware to the extent we can point our the fact that we’re not original either.

These two posts are my bible for Medium rants. If I weren’t obsessed with my own stats and the money I make (okay, well, there’s nothing to be obsessed with in that department), I would do you all the favor of just transcribing a bunch of quotes and never writing myself:

This guy is a deconstructionist Shakespeare compared to any of us:

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m a big fan of reading. But I can’t help questioning the level of insight here. There are probably tens of millions of 30-somethings who could have conjured this anodyne piece of pseudo-wisdom, and articulated it better. Yet here is Nic, with the blogger’s longed-for virality, all for 700 words of intellectually lightweight condescension.

These articles flourish by feeding us the seductive idea that we can always improve, always drag ourselves out of the rut, always be successful. Nearly all of them hold some reductive, snake-oil promise of making the reader better in life, work, love or play.

But so much of the content is utterly vapid, offering nothing beyond a few nauseating blandishments designed to appeal to the reader’s individualism and thirst for success.

6. Liberally scatter with unrealistic exhortations. These should hold the promise of self-improvement. Like: “You can be a genius, even if you’re catastrophically stupid” or “Never sleep, ever.”

Here, he vents against Medium’s algorithm (back in 2015), and devises a deliciously subversive experiment to prove his point:

And so I re-posted the piece, but this time I used a completely irrelevant title, parodying the same life-hack puffery, full of the promise of self-improvement and hero-emulation, that seems to be metastasizing across the Medium platform. Chuckling irreverently as I typed the words, I went for:

‘Elon Musk Just Revealed a Simple Hack that Could Transform Your Life.’

Then I changed the tags. Gone were ‘Syria’, ‘Travel’ and ‘War’. In came ‘Tech’, ‘Life lessons’ and ‘Entrepreneurship’.

Voila:

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Garnish your post with a photo of a cute little kitten and animal-lovers will flock to your button like zombies to a brain smorgasbord.

Unlike me, this guy is a wonderful professional writer. He went through his Medium satire phase and then moved on.

I followed in his path and beat this conceit like a dead horse, and also moved on.

And yet after three years, I saw a whole new class of Medium writers being bamboozled by a new class of Medium content marketers (actually there are a couple of mega successful ones who are still going strong), and I got pissed off all over again because the cycle is so repetitive and tedious.

If I were a true professional, I would ignore this shit and just finish writing the books I’ve been struggling to finish for years.

Maybe someday soon, I will do it, as well as edit and illustrate the four children’s books I’ve written. God, I’m a mess.

Maybe I need to read a self-improvement/productivity article on Medium.

Written by

Ad agency creative director, writer & designer at https://guttmanshapiro.com. Former pro tennis player and peak performance coach for professional athletes.

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