How many of us have seen one of these lists (or similar ones) pop up on Facebook or Twitter?
- 8 Traits of Truly Successful People
- 5 Traits of Emotionally Happy People
- 10 Things Stable People Don’t Do
They promise the secrets of eternal happiness and even, in veiled form, the keys to eternal wealth. It’s tempting, no-doubt but it plays on a very sinister side of our cynical brains. We don’t want to be helped but we’re glad to see examples of those who have been helped.
It’s like hearing a therapist from the other side of a wall just so you can claim you don’t actually “see” a therapist.
These articles aren’t help, they’re clickbait. Rather than luring you to look at llamas that look like Taylor Lautner, they want you to look at self help dogma. The authors of these articles want and need the clicks just as much as the Monster energy drink-addled millennials BuzzFeed calls writers.
It’s not that clickbait isn’t entertaining, it’s that there’s no real substance to it. Sure, I can read a biography about George S. Patton but does that mean I’m ready to command a battalion of tanks into a battle? For the sake of our brave veterans I sure as hell hope not.
Just by looking at a list, we cannot and should not measure ourselves in terms of our progress towards our life goals. We’re too diverse and our paths to happiness are too different.
You want advice? Talk to your best friend. Don’t have a best friend? Find a therapist. Can’t afford a therapist? Journal. I guarantee that any of these are better than the clickbait you’ve been reading.