Tuesday, January 28, 2014

The Anti-Promotion Snobbery

I don't like self-promotion. Of anything, of any kind. I don't like the idea of having to sell myself, my ideas, my "creations", my thoughts,  my opinions... or whatever else, unless it has some tangible meaning or use to someone.

But I live a real life. I know I can't get by without ever trying to "sell" what I have to offer. I get it. I know the power of marketing and advertisement. And I understand they are necessary aspects of a commerical business.

But sometimes (okay, several times), I can't get past it. It climbs on my nerves and rides me batty. I can't get past constant, unabashed promotions of how great one is.... and by that count, everyone is doing something "ground breaking" every minute. I am old-fashioned enough in matters of this kind. Whatever happened to the idea that actions speak louder than words? Or that quality speaks louder than quantity?

If something is truly good, it shouldn't require campaigns and promotions and advertisements and hyped tactics. It should speak for itself. Right? Yes?

I can sense you shaking your head and mouthing "no". Why? Because there is so much useless, inane noise made by everybody that those with substance need to raise their voices and make some noise too. Just to be noticed.

Ok. But, shouldn't there be a line drawn on how ridiculously one promotes themselves? 

Why is it that anyone that can write a sentence and use a free hosting service to publish it, calls themselves a writer? That too, a talented writer? If so, could you please learn to spell "that" the right way... it is not spelled "dat". I have checked.

Anyone that can draw stick figures and splash colors on paper or canvas calls themselves an artist. And talks about creative urges. How? How can someone be so self-deluded to think that their "Art" is in any way better or superior to that of a 2-year old's? 2 year old's everywhere are offended that no one calls them artists.

If someone picks up a book every few months, they become "voracious" readers , "avid" readers, "lovers of literature". Please don't say you are a lover of literature when you proudly proclaim the greatness of "Fifty Shades of Grey". Please, it gives me chest pains. 
Ask them what kinds of books they like, and hear them say, "There's just toooooo many to list! I read them all!" Ah, such a voracious reader that you have sooo many favorite books, but can't tell us anything about any kind of book. Knowing true voracious readers in my life, I find it unacceptable that such people would just confer such generous titles onto them.  

And don't get me started on those who call themselves poets. Oh my... everyone is a poet these days. And chefs. And wine connoisseurs. And photographers. In this abounding age of point and shoot cameras and Instagram, all of us are photographers.

Shouldn't these terms be earned? How ridiculous is it to attach superlative terms to oneself? Is it time to remove the term "humility" from the dictionary?

Yeah, I know I sound bitter. But, every now and then, I need to vent. 

You see, I am an anti-promotion snob. So much so, that I request people to not share or advertise my blogs/posts in high-traffic public domains. I hate promoting my hobbies, because I indulge in them for myself. I hate keeping count of my followers and readers. My followers? Really, who am I? I hate inflicting  ramblings such as this onto others by means of a status update. People have better things to do.

I can't stand saying "read this!" "like me!" "RT me!" "Follow me!" "+1 me!" "Pin me!" for a mere recipe or my self-entitled opinions. Who cares what I think? Is it going to solve global poverty? Or help any pressing global issue?

But I do like to foster discussions. Which is the reason why this post is publicly available and not in my private journal. If it is good enough for discussion, it will be discussed. And it will be read by those that choose to read it, when they want to.

I follow the mantra that if something is really that good, it will be found and appreciated without the need for mindless, inflated promotions. The best kinds of products don't require advertisements to be popular. The best kinds of people don't talk about themselves and how great they are. Others talk about them. 

I believe it is a true measure of the innate quality of anything. And so,  my social experiments with this philosophy continue... as does my snobbery.


Suvasini said...

Whoa... that was a rant but I so loved it! :)

The reason I say so is because in this world of one-upmanship, I am often irritated and saddened to the point of depression by people and their superlatives about everything including themselves.

Having been brought up in a family where excellence was always elusive and thus no success was success enough, this 'modern day' attitude of self promotion really gets to me. However what affects me more is that it actually works. Instead of disregarding such 'noisy empty vessels', I often find people paying them undue attention, giving them credit and more opportunities. I can see how and why people would self promote to this extent but I fail to see how everyone else fails to look at the quality of work or intellect underlying it.

That, to me is more disheartening, especially because it leaves me wondering if I am the only person being overly "critical".

Neeraja said...

I hear you Suvasini! You are not alone. Sorry it was bit much of a rant, but I would have exploded if I didn't vent and rant.

I know what it is to come from a family where no success is enough! I have never ever heard my dad use any superlative beyond "good". And that "good" is really hard to earn! No wonder I'm riled up when people brag senselessly.

I agree how disheartening it is to see people buy all the empty noise. But I always believe that such emptiness can't sustain long enough. It might temporarily get people's attention, but without any backing of serious quality and substance, it won't last. I just have to believe in it to retain my sanity :)

On the plus side, if ever there was one, I have learned a lot about how to promote things that are worth promoting! Their strategies are pretty neat when put to good use :)

Karthik said...

I agree with most of what you say here. In general, I find that most of the half-baked people are busy promoting themselves, while most of the talented ones are busy 'improving' themselves :)

But I do think that that even the best products always need some amount of promotion/marketing. There is just so much clutter that they would never be just discovered'.

Neeraja said...

Thanks for your comment Karthik! Haha, leave it to you to succinctly condense my rambling into one meaningful sentence :)

yeah, I guess that's reality. Everyone needs to do some amount of marketing just to get noticed. But my idealism still lurks in a corner of my mind :)

SecondSight said...

I can't help laughing and empathizing simultaneously. I can so imagine you pissed off enough to have written this :).

I do agree for the most part. To add to this though, every time you or I apply for a job or write a cover letter, what are we doing if not self-promoting?

I'd say 99% of what most of us do doesn't solve global poverty or other pressing issues. We do it for our loved ones and ourselves, to fill our emotional/ intellectual/physical etc. needs. So why should self-promotion be any different for those that do it?

As to the "who cares what I/ you think" question, who aren't you? Obviously people around you (me included :)) value what you have to say. Others just have their own circles, as trite as they seem.

Maybe it's just that I'm jaded enough to turn a blind eye or laugh at such ventures for the most part. As my mom would put it -- "Water finds its own level". You have yours, and they have theirs :)

Neeraja said...

SS, thanks for being the voice of calm reason, yet again :)

I agree and understand that I can't coast through life without ever talking about what I have to offer.

Competing for a job does require one to talk about themselves - there's no getting around it. It just bothers me when self-promotion gets indiscriminate, dishonest and unnecessarily exaggerated. Talking of resumes or cover letters, mine is always pathetically bare-boned - just stating facts and providing information. I'm inordinately obsessed with using only those adjectives and sentences about me that are verifiable, because my "conscience" overreacts. After all, there are recommendation letters too :)... but expecting the entire world to follow my philosophy is ridiculous too. So, now that I have vented (yet again), I will turn a blind eye and be quiet for a good long period ;)

Suvasini said...

Russel said that succinctly: "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are always so certain of themselves, and wiser people so full of doubts." - Bertrand Russel

And I certainly hope that in the end, quality will shine through the fog of self promotion... although right now, my cynicism is clouding that hope!