Monday, 5 December 2011

More Certain Than The Laws of Thermodynamics

Where there is desperation, the vultures will flock. 

Help us help you achieve your personal career goals.
90% of applicants found our services got them an interview within a month.
We care about your personal goals.
Do you lack energy? Here is some spiritual mumbo-jumbo that'll perk you right up.

Want to ACHIEVE? 
Because if you don't purchase our products you won't. And if you do, well we can guarantee it will happen at some point... maybe... 

In other news, despite nosediving overall consumer demand, sales of snake oil have skyrocketed since 2008. 

This is a personal appeal. 
Look, I'm just as much of a mug as the next guy, in fact probably more of one. I'm pretty polite in most public situations which means for the most part that I'm exactly the sort of fellow to engage in genuine conversation with chuggers, hustlers, even telesales executives.... 

I don't tend to buy anything either, which I guess is actually worse for them since they've basically just had a little chat and taken time out of their day for absolutely no reason. Oh well. I don't mind, I really don't mind salespeople at all. At the end of the day we're all selling something and they've probably got rent to pay as well. 

But if there is one thing that I cannot stand it is the language of self-improvement. 

You know the books. You've seen them piled high in train-station WHSmiths: Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Begin it Now: You Have a Purpose, The Secret (particularly odious), The Game...

My dislike of these actually goes beyond normal dislike. You might wonder after all, what is so wrong with trying to do better by yourself? Most behaviour is learned and habitual behaviour takes a concerted effort to undo and if a book can help with that then what's the point in complaining? 

Honestly. I believe that these books are parasites. They buy into the culture of self-esteem and lack of respect and revel in it. The writers are loftily pompous. "You too can be like me."After all, who really cares about the irony of a relatively rich person finding their income flagging and writing a How To Get Rich book to maximise some new revenue streams?

Be fair who wouldn't want to be like this guy?

If you want to read mindless platitudes then fair enough, but please don't be persuaded to exchange cash for it. You can get that shit for free. 

Actually, it's not even this that really gets my goat. 

What I really really object to is the way that this language has infected every aspect of our lives. 

The other day I spoke to a recruitment consultant (another non-job) regarding my CV. Ostensibly he was giving me advice on the layout and so forth, but actually he was trying to flog me his CV writing services. 

"So I see you've got experience with SEO?"
"Well, CVs are like SEO. You know how when you're trying to optimise google searches you have certain key words that you have to type?" 
"Yes..." (No. SEO is complete bollocks from beginning to end.)
"Yeah well the same with a CV, what I really don't see are those key phrases, the real punch, the real deal you know?"
"Yes" (No.)
"Exactly Jacob, couldn't have put it better myself." (What?)"But Jacob, what you really need is for me to book you in for a consulation. Jacob, let me book you in. I can see you need it, you know you need it. In fact, I can make a cast iron guarantee that with my process your CV will be that much better and you'll really start meeting those personal goals."
"I see."
"Jacob. You have a problem. If you didn't, you wouldn't have come here. Let me fix it."

I really don't want to break down the logical inconsistencies of LITERALLY EVERYTHING this guy has just said but nonetheless this sort of salesmanship, the leading questions, the switching of the persona, the appearance that the salesman is just another good guy (by the by why the fuck do I have to speak to this bellend as a requirement of the jobcentre? This is what happens when you contract out to private companies.)

It is the final sentence that really gets me, and it gets a lot of people too. 

It get's you because it is rooted in truth. 

You do have a problem.

You have a problem that you would like to fix otherwise you would not be there. BUT and please remember this BUT, that does not mean that you have to buy their products. 

Now it's true that you might see some improvement through reading through and using their services. What you will find though, is that there is almost certainly zero science backing up their methods and why is this? Because you've basically just splashed a pile of wonga on something that a long and honest chat with your closest friends would fix. 

You're paying money for common sense. Again, please see the irony in this. 

I have a problem that I would like fixed. I would like a good career, to have a whole lot more cash, to be considerably suaver, to look better in the colour blue, to have a stronger jawline, to have slightly clearer eyes etc etc etc

Haha suckers this is actually me, I don't need any of that shit.

Let's not pretend that by whispering a couple of mantras to myself and engaging in marketing bollockspeak I'm going to be any happier though. And neither are you. These people, they aren't here to help you. They love that you wallow in misery and the crash of 2008 set them salivating with joy. Their bank balances doubled and whilst you lay awake at night worrying about the cut of your jib, they snoozed peacefully on their bed of cash. 

You have to wonder, what sort of person is it that you're buying from? What kind of shameless sickness is it that makes a person actively attempt to profit from other peoples' misery? Think you're going to buy One Hundred Ways to Get a Mad Six Pack and Make Yourself Financially Successful now? No. 

Here's some personal development advice. Get happy yourself. Because these people couldn't care less.