Saturday, May 31, 2008

This is the way the blog ends, this is the way the blog ends, this is the way the blog ends....

I always thought that when this day arrived I'd have something poetic to say, or at least I'd make a reasonable attempt at poesy. But all I can really think of at this point is: I guess I'm burned out. And so, rather than just let SHAMblog begin a slow, sad march to obsolescence by allowing my posts to dwindle to nothingness (hence the Eliot reference in the title), I thought I'd make more of an official declaration. Thus it's with mixed emotions, but a sense of resignation nevertheless, that I report that this post, No. 554 in the series, will likely be the last. I'm going to keep the site up; I'm not planning to delete the blog, at least not yet. I just don't expect to be doing any new posting in the foreseeable future.

A bit of history. In the beginning, I'll confess, I saw SHAMblog as a natural complement to my book, one that I hoped would drive traffic to Amazon or into bookstores. Logically speaking, of course, there was never much reason for me to make that assumption. In my state of self-deluding authorial narcissism, I failed to consider that the process was almost sure to unfold in reverse: Only after reading SHAM might it occur to anyone to look me up online. And within a matter of months, once the Random House-orchestrated PR campaign wound down (and I could assess the blog's impact without that added variable muddying the waters), it became clear that nothing I ever wrote on this blog was apt to have more than a trifling impact on sales: a few incremental books a week at best. Given the prodigious number of man-hours I typically invested here, that works out to maybe 50 cents an hour. In strict cost-effectiveness terms, I'd have been better off entering the managerial-training program at my local Mickey D's.

Point being, it's been a long, long time since I viewed SHAMblog as a "revenue generator." And that's fine with me. Blessed (or cursed) with boundless curiosity, I came to see this as a sounding board, a clearinghouse for high-level opinion on this and that. (I also saw it as a place to work out my own, oft-ambivalent feelings on this and that.) Over time we broadened SHAMblog's mission and mandate. We stopped looking exclusively at narrow topics in self-help and began examining developments and trends in the wider culture (though always with an eye toward connecting the dots to issues in self-help and self-awareness, when such a connection was not too much of an ideological overreach). Through it all, I took enormous pride in the thoughts and feelings showcased here...and I don't mean my own thoughts and feelings. I've read all of the "hot" blogs, from Boing Boing to Huffington, from TMZ to Kos, and overall, I'd put our contributor content up against that found anywhere in the blogosphere for its cogency, lucidity, originality and wit, not to mention sheer literary flair. And I'm not just referring to our regulars, either. One of the coolest and most fascinating things about blogging is that folks will randomly pop in now and then to offer their two cents on either a pet peeve or a topic especially near and dear their hearts; you'll hear from them on April 5 and then not again until November 9. And as is the case with old friends, you're always happy to see them again (not that I'd know from personal experience).

Anyway, though it's been an interesting run, folks, I'm afraid I've gone as far as I can with it. I find that I'm increasingly repeating myself and recycling content; that's the same sin of which I used to accuse the self-help gurus (although, in my defense, I've never charged anybody for it). Bottom line, I think I've just been writing about self-help for too damn long: six years, now, since I signed to do SHAM and threw myself into the research. And almost 25 years, if you count all the time I spent chronicling this or that element of the SHAMscape before I even saw the Big Picture.

I know that I'm leaving some unfinished business—Byron Katie comes to mind—and for that, I apologize. Maybe someday I'll write about it for-profit (i.e. with a magazine paying the freight). Maybe you'll Google me from time to time, see what I'm up to.

One last thing. Of all the criticisms lodged against me and SHAMblog, the most frequent—and the most cutting, to me—was that I'm a pessimist and a naysayer; that I'm some kind of dark-side presence who "roots for people to fail." Nothing could be farther from the truth. Believe it or not, from the time I was a boy, I've always been someone who sees the good in people and in life itself. (During my school days—no joke—I'd get in trouble for spontaneously laughing too much in class. Now, that could be a comment on my sanity as well, but I prefer to think of it as testament to the joy that just bubbled up from somewhere inside me and could not be contained.) Nor am I one of those people who, after a while, gets jaded and misses the beauty in life. I think I've mentioned this before, but when we first moved to California, we lived in a neighborhood that was rimmed by picturesque high hills; it was a constant tableau of color silhouetted against color. In the four years we lived there, I never got used to it. Our neighbors would simply walk out their front doors in the morning, their eyes fixed on the pavement or their car keys, never looking up. Me? I looked up every single time I left the house. I never took the hills for granted.

I urge all of you to keep looking up, too. You have picturesque hills in your own lives, and you should never take them for granted.

I thank all of you for your participation and input, both on and off the blog. And I wish all of you well.

50 comments:

RevRon's Rants said...

It's been a fun ride, Steve, and I want to thank you for taking us along. I hate to see it end, but I can certainly understand your reasons. Just make sure not to bail on the "gang" completely, OK? :-)

Happy trails...

Cosmic Connie said...

This news is not unexpected, Steve, but it really saddens me. Believe me, I know how much time a blog takes up, and how little return you get, and I understand all of your reasons for wanting to quit.

But SHAMblog has been a unique force in the blogosphere, and not just for the level of discourse (most of the time), though that was certainly an outstanding factor. Without SHAMblog there will be one less voice against the SHAMsters. Sure, there are numerous self-righteously skeptical blogs, a few rabidly cynical ones, and then there are the snarky types like mine... but who's going to present that more balanced, journalistic view?

Maybe you could still post occasionally. Or send SHAMblog on a farewell tour, like certain rock and country stars have been on farewell tours for the past 20 years. At the very least, I hope you do leave the existing blog up for a long time to come.

BTW, I discovered you and SHAM *after* I discovered your blog. And I first discovered your blog because of a scathing review you wrote on Amazon regarding a certain New-Wage hustledork's book. Everyone else was writing glowing reviews, almost as if they were friends of the author doing him a favor or something (ya think?). But you... well, you were honest. And that made me want to read more of your writing. And your blog made me want to read SHAM.

Anyway, I wish you the best of luck, whatever you choose to do.

Voltaire said...

Sorry to hear you're ending you're posts Steve but I understand why anyone would get tired of saying essentially the same thing over and over again. The sea of ignorance in the world is big enough to drown the most stalwart skeptic.

One way of looking at your book and the SHAM phenomenon is it's all just sloppy thinking. If you're traveling from point A to point B usually there are only a few ways to do it well and an infinite number of ways to do it badly or not at all. The same kind of principle applies to finding the truth: the best way is usually short and simple; there are a lot of ways to go awry.

So there I summed up your book in just a few sentences; why did you take so many pages when you could have done it in just a few sentences?

Well, there's a problem: even though the truth often is simple, it's almost never easy to find; that's why I bought and read you book. For someone like me who tries hard to find the right way I appreciate people who take a hard nosed look at what's going on and speak out when the emperor has no clothes.

Find the truth is hard enough but it's much harder when humans actively stand in the way of finding it. When a book like SHAM comes along it gets my attention because I'm painfully aware of how wide spread obscurantism is. I'm very very tired of people acting like the Wizard of Oz behind the curtain.

I'm also puzzled why the majority seem to be hostile to having illusions destroyed. Instead of thanking you they they wish you ill much like back when Socrates drank the hemlock.

Maybe this could be another deeper question for this blog: why is it that some people want their illusions maintained while others want to see things as they are.

Anyway thanks for your book and thanks for this blog.

Jen said...

Ah! I just recently discovered your blog. Am reading your book, finding it quite interesting. Wondering how it's going to end.

This isn't the ultimate self-help book, is it?

Fondest regards ...

a/good/lysstener said...

Steve, I hope I can be forgiven one last comment, which is that I actually got teary-eyed when I read this is "the end". Even though I haven't commented, for reasons you know, I still read daily and it was like a sense of belonging to something important.

I will miss SHAMblog tremendously. Though we had our differences, it was an oasis of intelligence in the middle of a sea of stupidity.

I hope life brings you only good things.

Anonymous said...

Say it ain't so!

I felt it though that you were losing something for the blog, Steve. It's one thing to be down on self help but sometimes lately I felt you were down on the blog itself. Good luck whatever you do, it was great being a part of all this!
--Carl

a/good/lysstener said...

I also have to say as a p.s., it gives me chills that we analyzed that poem in my last master's class.

Again, the very best of wishes to you.

Lana said...

I'll miss your blog, Steve. I appreciate all the thought and work that you've put into it.

I hope you decide to post once in awhile!

Elizabeth said...

Steve, I guess all good things must end sooner than later, and for some reason (or several) the time indeed seems right for SHAMblog. Not that I don't wish otherwise, selfishly so. I hope that you don't shut the SHAMblog's door completely -- maybe you can keep it ajar, just in case, although I realize that this may not be a reasonable thing to do.

As I said before, you have created a unique space here, one that had the feel of a (more or less cozy) tea salon -- with occasional cold drafts sweeping through and accidental dragons lurking about, but still open and inviting. SHAMblog was my first blogging experience and I could not have found a better one. Like Connie, I discovered it after reading your Amazon review (of Tolle's book), which was, in my eyes, the most reasonable one and the closest to expressing my own thoughts. I got your book after coming to SHAMblog.

Your ambivalence, or rather your openness and the ability to admit not knowing things for certain -- and to ask questions -- has been one of the more endearing features of your blog. That, and of course the right dose of snark:). For what it's worth, I've never considered you a pessimist or a naysayer; more of a (somewhat closeted) romantic, quite often struggling to keep peace with your outward skeptic. That wonderful cognitive dissonance (yes:) has made your observations fresh and interesting, and encouraged many (or maybe just some) to ask their own questions as they followed your thoughts.

Thank you, Steve, for being such an engaging and gracious host. I wish you the best. Will look forward to reading your sue-worthy expose of B. Katie's empire whenever and wherever it appears. (And now I know for sure that beyond here, there be dragons.)

Matt Dick said...

I am most certainly one who posted infrequently, I hope I'm one who was seen as an old friend when I did.

Best of luck. This has been a highlight of a blog for me.

Take care.

The Crack Emcee said...

Steve,

You're my guy, you know that. I wouldn't be the A-hole I am today without you. I've said it before and I'll say it again: you saved my sanity (and maybe my life) by seeing something nobody else did, that I was trying to figure out, and writing a great book about it. The blog was icing on the cake because I actually got to "meet" you. You changed my life - for the better.

I'm becoming a better writer because of you, that's for sure; even trying not to swear as much (though it can be a losing battle.)

Stay in touch, man. Guys like me need you.

Yekaterina said...

I'm probably going to check in during the next few weeks...hoping you've changed your mind. Even though I agree that ending it this way is better than the posts-dwindling-down-to-nothing scenario...I think.

Will miss reading SHAMblog!

Have you thought about writing a weekly column? SHAMblog MONdays to help us junkies jumpstart the week?

I may have to turn to self-help to get through this Steve...

Steve Salerno said...

Thanks to all of you who stopped in to say good-bye, and those who may yet stop in over the next few days.

Believe me when I say that you folks (and the overall sense of community) are the thing that I'll miss about SHAMblog. As I've said pretty forthrightly a number of times, I've always been a loner, and this is really the closest I've had to a group of friends. ==sniffle, sniffle== Certainly a group of (more or less) like-minded friends.

And Ykat, I know you're kidding about turning to self-help, but it makes my blood run cold (or colder) just to read that. ;)

Jim said...

Steve, this ruins my day. :( But I totally understand. You have to use your time wisely, and it is better to end on a high note than to dwindle away.

I discovered your book and this blog pretty recently, but I want you to know they have had a positive influence on me and my life. I've learned a lot here. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Willie Mays couldn't get around on the high, inside fastball when he played for the Mets. Dan Marino was dead meat when forced from the pocket during his last 3 seasons; and Emmit Smith was a non-factor for the Cardinals. They all stayed in the spotlight too long. At the end of his career, even John Holmes couldn't ... well, you get the idea.

The Shamscape has run its course, and now it's time to move on to more fertile ground.

Best of luck, and visualize prosperity. Wait, that's the wrong message. How about this: Work your ass off and use your talents to achieve success.

Jonathan Cohen said...

I was generally a lurker too, but I'll miss you!

mikecane2008 said...

Oh bloody bloody bloody hell.

I think you should have gone on at least til the end of the year, even if you simply did one post a week.

I'll put an announcement on my blog tomorrow, if my damned slowed-by-XP-SP3-PC will let me! (I might have a full day of disinfecting to do...)

I never even got to properly slap you around for what you wrote about Randy Pausch. (I see, ironically, that the YouTube clip I linked to has been removed due to a copyright claim from Harpo, Inc! Aw, isn't she generous?)

Ah, well.

Frankly, I think you'll come back at one point.

You're addicted.

Chase said...

Your work has helped me to become more aware of the ideas embedded in American culture. Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Wow Steve,

I'm overwhelmed. You've been threatening to stop blogging for a while but I guess I was in denial.
It just means that I have to stop reading and start writing instead.

Thank you for the blood, sweat and tears you poured into the blog. I know it was financially draining but it more then made up in the impact it had on us readers the people we came into contact with.

I look forward to paying for your writing in the future.

Many Thanks
Londoner

Anonymous said...

Gosh - now cosmic connie has a reason to look so blue.

Anonymous said...

This sucks! I just found the sight a short while ago. I have read and reread and ranted about your book for a long time now. As for the nay sayers...well I have always appriciated honest truthful discussions and examinations, and that really is all I ever saw in the book or this blog.

Thanks and the best of luck to you.

roger o'keefe said...

Steve, first of all, I wish you hadn't sung your swan song quite so forcefully. Now, even if you were inclined to resume the blog at some point, you'd probably feel foolish about it.

Well don't. I for one would welcome Shamblog back at any time you care to resume it. It had become a regular part of my day, checking for new posts and comments, and I will miss it. Not to sound overly sentimental but it will almost seem as if there's a void in the day somehow.

I join everyone else in wishing you good fortune in all you do. Maybe come back now and then and at least give up periodic updates?

P.S. I really like Ykaterina's idea of a "Shamblog Monday."

Steve Salerno said...

Again, I am gratified (and frankly stunned) by the sentiments being expressed here. And--file this under "life is strange, volume 2653"--the number of hits today is running double what it's been on a typical Monday.

It's nice to see so many kind faces at the funeral. ;)

Steven Sashen said...

Oh, thank God/Vishnu/Thor/Whomever that you're closing shop.

Now I'll be able to get something DONE every day, instead of constantly checking my RSS feed to see if you've said anything new to which I'd want to add my $.02.

;-)

Jen said...

I am glad to see so many other people here expressing good wishes. You mentioned earlier that you appreciate the community here. And then later, expressed glee that so many people showed up for your funeral! What's up with that? You've done an incredible thing here. Looking forward to seeing what you'll do next!

Fondly ...

moonrambler said...

Hi Steve. No point in continuing if you aren't having fun with it.

I'm a liberal Democrat environmental wacko who likes listening to Rush Limbaugh. And I'm a student of the Law of Attraction and various New Age theories, who likes reading your blog and the commentary. I like hearing opposing opinions to my own, and considering them. It makes me more aware, makes me smarter, lets me know where I might need to change my mind.

So don't be stunned at the sentiments people are expressing. You created something valuable here.

Mary Anne said...

How will I know about the next Shamster? I was an innocent novice about the self-help industry until I read the SHAM blog. You corrupted me!

I found you on Amazon when my ex-corporate bosses where smelling blood in the water with impressionable people and quoting Disney and self-help drivel they did not understand. I had to find out what all this nonsense they were spewing was all about and found you. You wrote a review of Jolly Green Giant Robbins with a link to your blog and I got hooked.

It has been an interesting ride indeed. I am going to leave with the words of my favorite self-help author, Dr. Seuss, from my favorite self-help book, The Places You’ll Go:

So...
be your name Buxbaum or Bixby or Bray
or Mordecai Ali Van Allen O'Shea,
you're off to Great Places!
Today is your day!
Your mountain is waiting.
So...get on your way!

Anonymous said...

"As I've said pretty forthrightly a number of times, I've always been a loner, and this is really the closest I've had to a group of friends. ==sniffle, sniffle== Certainly a group of (more or less) like-minded friends.

Steve,

I feel your pain about topic fatigue. There’s nothing worse than feeling obligated to beat a horse that you’ve already thoroughly killed.

There have been a lot of great moments on Shamblog. Here are my top 20.

1. Amazon–gate … Love Smart, the Dr. Phil book review mystery and Dr. Marilyn R. Barry

2. Mr. Fire’s fire interpretation

3. Color commentary … a/good/lysstener, Cosmit Connie, the crack emcee, Rev Ron

4. Midwest Center of … blog invasion

5. The guy that always commented in third person, then we all started talking in 3rd person

6. Tony Robbins, it’s National Watermelon Day … hurry offer ends

7. The devil’s advocate, the devil’s advocate, the devils advocate of the devils advocate

8. Steve’s refusal to write an advice book or self help guide … but a 1000 pshychiatrists, I’m there!

9. Sham is topping Amazon’s best seller list in books about hypnosis … hmmm?

10. Trying to find a copy of Skeptic at Barnes and Noble

11. The great Sham horror story conspiracy unraveled by reverse lookup

12. Oprah, A&E daytime tv, baseball … Steve’s strange TV habits

13. Dirty Harry Steve … or the pic of evil eyed Steve holding a baseball bat … “I really like guns”

14. Oh no, another post about race, ok here we go

15. Stupor Sundays

16. Only the data are slim series

17. Free will vs. determinism debate

18. the Anderson Cooper interview where Mark “the tiger” Victor Hanson attacks … Steve replies something like, um, I actually wrote for one of your chicken soup books and I thought you were going to be Tony Robbins, not fair

19. Another one of my favorites, which is the worst opening ever … “I don't think I'm likely to make additional cyber-friends with this post, and I may well lose some of the few I've got now. So what else is new. – 9/20/07” … classic positive shamblog energy.

20. The Secret

OK Steve. I’m not going to let you abandon us.

At a minimum, I would like to hear that you’ve created a personal blog to keep your community of readers, the people that buy your books and look for your published work, updated. That would save us hunting for your work in the WSJ, Washington Post, Sceptic, and other places in the future.

Seriously, don’t you think it’s a bit absurd that you want to abandon the unique community you’ve spent 3+ years creating for yourself?

-- Case

Steve Salerno said...

Case, thank you for your support throughout, and for the trip down memory lane. "SHAMblog's Greatest Hits," eh? Geez; I'm speechless that anyone would put so much thought into such a retrospective. And no, folks, that's not "faux humility." It's as un-faux as it gets.

Mike Cane said...

Checking in here on Thursday, 6/5/08.

Steve hasn't cracked yet.

But he will!

Lana said...

Me too. Checking in at 6/5, 12:41 p.m. :-)

Anonymous said...

Just checking in too.

If he doesn't crack we will.

we'll have to form a SHAM-dependancy help group:)

Londoner

Jen said...

10:43 a.m. Friday and guessing he might have secretly already cracked. Heck, he's probably over there enjoying a big cheesy omelet as we speak. ;)

Steve Salerno said...

You guys are all insane. You know that...right?

But then, if you were altogether sane...what would you have been doing on SHAMblog in the first place?

OTOH...maybe we're too sane. Maybe it's our sanity that prevents us from seeing The Light and thus being attracted into the Great Vortex of Fulfillment Everlasting alongside Rhonda, and Joe V., and Eckhart, and Tony, and Marianne, and quite possibly the next president of these United States, hand-picked by Oprah to lead us all to the promised land....

Steve Salerno said...

(That doesn't count as "cracking," does it?) ;)

Lana said...

That's my story... I'm too sane for this world!

Anonymous said...

I for one am happy with dwindling posts and random acts of journalism in the weeks ahead.

I think, or dare I say hope, that Steve is going to have a hard time quitting the blog cold turkey.

Mike Cane said...

Friday 6/6, ~9:30PM EDST.

I give him less than a week more.

Unless he has a swimming pool. Dammit, someone take away his distractions!

Yekaterina said...

I'm making a voodoo doll of Mr. Salerno--baseball cap, arthritic knees and all. I'm going to sit the doll down in front of a computer keyboard and make him peck at the keys every Monday morning.

I think Londoner is right, if Steve doesn't crack soon some others around here might.

So, if anyone's passing through Pennsylvania this weekend if you could swing by Steve's house and pull me a few strands of hair from his hairbrush it would be appreciated.

Disclaimer: This post is a joke and should not be taken seriously. In the event that someone breaks into the Salerno home and steals a hairbrush I will not be held accountable!

Steve Salerno said...

Y-kat, the hairbrush would do you increasingly less good these days. You'd probably be better served just stealing one of my bathroom mats, because that's where most of my hair comes to repose as I lurch into my so-called golden years.

So...SHAMblog Mondays, huh?

mikecane2008 said...

>>>So...SHAMblog Mondays, huh?

Craaaaaaacking.

Like an EGG!!

Yekaterina said...

>>>So...SHAMblog Mondays, huh?

You have my word that I will not stick any pins in my doll if you give SHAMblog Mondays a try.

Is voodoo considered self-help?

;-)

Cosmic Connie said...

Count me in as one of the "yes" votes for SHAMblog Mondays.

An even better idea would be a SHAMblog post on every day that ends in "y."

Just trying to be helpful here...

Jen said...

Yekaterina said...

> You have my word that I will not
> stick any pins in my doll if
> you give SHAMblog Mondays a try.

But what if those pins are the thing that gets his SHAMblog motor running?

RevRon's Rants said...

"I'm going to sit the doll down in front of a computer keyboard and make him peck at the keys every Monday morning."

oh, yekatarina... If you only knew the level of restraint it took not to do something wholly out of context with this sentence!!!

But a Shamblog Monday would be good... Steve, we wouldn't even demand that every post adhere to the Supreme Tenets of Professional Journalism. You could spout your own bias with impunity, just like every one of us does in our comments. Show us what a scamp you really are! I dare ya! I DOUBLE-DOG dare ya! :-)

Anonymous said...

Yay for Shamblog Mondays!

Lets start the viral marketing campaign......

Londoner

Mike Cane said...

>>>An even better idea would be a SHAMblog post on every day that ends in "y."

Bah. That gives him too much wiggle room.

It should be everyday that has a WHY in it.

Anonymous said...

So Steve, shall we abandon all hope...?

Anonymous said...

At last! I was wondering when you would stop writing so long postings with so many overused themes;-))

As for your negativity, have your critics live among French people for a couple of months, they would name you as a true optimist... Some people just confuse pessimism with criticism.

Anyway, good luck with your future projects.

Vanessa Biard from Paris

gregory said...

gregory says, enjoy, move into a new space, see what you can grow

thanks for your caring