“Jump off a Cliff”
“Take a Dive”
“Just Jump You Motherfucker”
“Disregard Common Sense”
“Reject the Establishment”
“Drop Out of College”
I see articles and posts with titles like those strewn and shared across the LinkedIn and Quora’s of the Internet.
And I’m a bit irked by them. Part of the reason has to do with their source and authorship — they are frequently written by almighty “Influencers,” entrepreneurs, visionaries, DIY self-starting wunderkinds who built their respective Web 2.0 fortunes before their second birthdays and first Lego sets. I definitely react to manifestos and proclamations differently when they are delivered by feminists, artists, or Björk.
When entrepreneurs attempt to wave the banner of Renegades and Rebels, or perhaps their preferred term, “Disrupters,” it just seems a bit disingenuous. Perhaps, those guys were rebels at the outsets when they went ahead and founded their companies. But even then, they got rich, sold their companies, and once more rejoined the establishment (in case they had ever left). Consequently, I’m more inclined to regard them as short-term, temp rebels then habitual ones.
Additionally, I find those articles repulsive because they encourage irresponsible, impulsive behavior. Planning is usually downplayed by the authors to emphasize a crowd-pleasing and obsequious “drop your bags, you are smarter than any knows” approach. Roll your die, take risks, capitalize on your whims, the Influencers say, but I have a hunch that they would not stake their same claims if probability had not been so kind a friend to their lives.
I won’t lie, I have been seduced by my share of beautifully written Raise-All-Hell graduation speeches and pep talks (see the Holstee Manifesto), especially when they come from a figure I respect, and I expect to be seduced again from time to time in the future. I am certainly not above reproach.
That said, my fallibility does not make those pieces any less prosaic. I stand by my wish that fewer interns and middle managers read, devour, and upvote them. After all, they only appear as often as they do because people, hungry for self-validation as fellow Visionaries, Disrupters, Creatives, click on them to provide traffic.
It’s not that the posts are a major problem by themselves. Rather, they’re part of the problem. They reinforce the cultural priority of getting rich as soon as possible, which promotes the stampede of headless chickens without skills or patience. The Influencers, with their experience, should know that dealing with headless chickens is not good for business, economics, or the society at large.
The grander, overarching problem bears no repeating.
I hope that the Influencers will instead eventually use their agency and wisdom (that is, if it is in their wisdom) to advocate for the importance of balance and long-term planning before making professional and financial decisions.
“Damn the torpedoes! Slow down.”
“Throw some caution to the wind.”
“America … hell yeah!”
Perhaps less romantic. Certainly lamer. Less Braveheart, less Social Network, and get the fuck out Gladiator.
But also more pragmatic.