Monday, September 12, 2011

'I can have all the followers I want!'

For some reason I cannot explain, my Twitter following has expanded dramatically of late. At this writing I'm all the way up to 241. Though that's a laughably puny number in the grand scheme of things (no threat to Tony Robbins' 1.9 million), it's worlds better than the 100-something at which I lolled for my first full year of residence in the tweet-o-sphere.

My most recent follower is this guy:

Mark Shadan
@CreateWhatUWant San Bruno, Ca
Law of Attraction Coach | Life Coach | There is no limit to what u can be, do or have... Really. Until new site, u can get info here:
So. There is no limit to what u can be, do or have... Really. Really?

We'll leave aside the question of why someone who subscribes to that anthem* would follow me. Maybe he just wants to know what the enemy is up to. But I thought this might be a
good time for a refresher course in that peculiar line of insanity that goes, "You can achieve anything you want in life!" Or as the late, not-so-great Randy Pausch put it, "Brick walls are there for other people." Is that so, Randy? Then I guess a diagnosis of stage-4 metastatic pancreatic cancer is there for other people, too, huh? Whoops...

I've said this often, but we used to put people away for insisting that the physical world is responsive to the wishes of the psyche; that external reality arranges itself
to conform with whatever you want or believe or, ahem, attract. Really, that's the perverse genius of the New Age: Its hucksters have somehow succeeded in mainstreaming notions that once were identified with schizophrenia and other forms of actual mental pathology.
"You know, Dr. Swanson, if I stare at that Corvette long enough it will come to me and take me to Disneyland! Really, it will. It will..."

"All right, Ms. Tompkins, it's time for your shock treatment now. Oh, and Nurse Jones, remind me that we need to up the dosage of thorazine..."
Over the years I've blogged about the shameless/shameful overselling of positive mental attitude in such areas as health (see here and/or here), the supposed benefits of enthusiasm and self-confidence, the phenomenon I dubbed Sportsthink (too many entries to list, but try this one for starters), etc. Hell, I devoted an entire article to the subject in Skeptic. I've also emphasized the counterintuitive dangers of today's culturally viral PMA in interviews on CNN, MSNBC, FOX, and an hour-long prime-time show I helped develop for ABC. Point being, I don't need to repeat it all here. Many other astute observers have taken up the cause since the publication of my 2005 book, SHAM. In fairness, Wendy Kaminer was touching on this same foible two decades ago in her mordant send-up of self-help's Victimization wing, I'm Dysfunctional, You're Dysfunctional. And yet this crazy notion that you can "be anything you want in life!" not only won't go away, but continues to be mindlessly reinforced in schools across America each and every day, thereby creating whimsical feelings of entitlement that, to my mind, do far more harm than good.

Let's face it, much of the time we can't even change how we feel about something, let alone change the course of the something itself! I offer a simple experiment to prove it: If you are a parent, stop loving your children. Presto! Go ahead, see if you can do it. I bet you can't. And if you're thinking, But I don't WANT to stop loving my kids, so why should I try?, well, that same internal monologue is constantly running deep inside your psyche with regard to countless other issues that arise throughout the day: But I don't WANT to [fill in the blank] or But I HAVE to [fill in the blank]. Sure, change is possible; it's just not a push-button process, and I'd argue that whatever that process may be is seldom kick-started by anything under our conscious control.

Put simply, we're gonna be what we are, and we're gonna feel what we feel, until something changes for us.
And then we're gonna be and feel that, until something else changes again. And that's true regardless of what u say, Mark.

* at least for public consumption.


Dimension Skipper said...

But maybe all those LOA acolytes ARE changing the world... After all now we can all name our own price for car insurance!

Hmmm, So let ME give it a try... I want to be able to name my own price for gasoline. Think I'll start tossing that wish-fulfillment out into the cosmos. You can all thank me later.


Steve Salerno said...

DimSkip, let me know how it goes on the gas front.

Btw, you're aware that that whole "name your own price for car insurance" campaign is a total crock?

Dimension Skipper said...


A: Yes, I am.

At least I just have always assumed it was because, really... how COULD they do that? And if they did there'd have to be so many restrictions and limitations that it'd be pointless. But I never bothered trying to actually look into it or wade through the oceans of fine print which detail exactly how crockish it all is.

No, I was being completely tongue-in-cheeky.

Steve Salerno said...

Re insurance: Yeah. They ask you how much you want to pay, then they try to find an existing form/level of coverage that more or less matches up. And if that price level doesn't equate to what you'd hoped to achieve in terms of coverage, they try to upsell.

It's not like you can walk in there and say, "I want full coverage with a zero deductible, and I want to pay $100 a year for it," and they'll just say, "Sure, Mr. Skipper, step right this way...!"

roger o'keefe said...

This is the meat and potatoes of Shamblog. It was nice to have the trip down memory lane too, with some of your "greatest hits".

RevRon's Rants said...

If LOA were viable, every adolescent boy would lose his virginity to the prom queen by the age of 14. The p[rom queen, on the other hand, would remain pure until, at the age of 17, she married the captain of the football team. And Our friend Tattoo* would be sitting on Fantasy Island, rather than sweating how he was going to make his $5,000 a month lease payments on Rolls that has already outlived its usefulness.

* -

Voltaire said...


Steve Salerno said...

Volt: ?

As in, si?