Published May 11th, 2016
by Swanchita Haze

One of my favourite topics – as is probably evident from my previous posts on this blog – is the terrible ways we’re all somehow getting worse at digital, marketing and advertising. You’d almost think it makes me happy to write about this. It doesn’t. I visibly age every time I have to do this shit. But I have to talk about it or I’m scared I’ll start smashing drain covers into my face to distract me.

But this one might be a tough one, because I’m about to tell you the opposite of what every soft focus Instagram image of a sunset has been telling you for the last few years; you’re not a special snowflake. You’re probably as shit at this as the rest of us. And being you is not enough. I understand if you need to go find a safe space to deal with any feelings that brought up, please go do so and keep “doing you“. For the rest of us, we’re going to put our big girl pants on and dive right into this.

Oh, also, trigger warning: mediocrity.

The following are actual quotes I’ve read or heard from adult humans in our industry on social media, and not a 12 year old girl’s diary:

  • “I should just share what I am”
  • “I do this to inspire people”
  • “you have what it takes to truly be you”
  • “being who I am is the most important thing”
  • #inspired

What’s scary is that this type of self-esteem inflating nonsense only ever comes from three places on social media; people selling Juice Plus, people in our industry, and your mum.

Fight Club Punch
This attitude is more prevalent among those who’ve never been punched in the face.

Anyone who’s seen Fight Club will tell you that self-improvement is masturbation, but even the wanking has got lazy. Instead of at least faking the effort it takes to improve yourself either personally or professionally, this crap is just a weak rationalisation for existing behaviours and practices. Everywhere we turn there’s another bland message in a cursive font telling us everything we’re doing is totally fine because it’s just an expression of who we are as a person.

This type of thing leads people to a state where they accept their own mediocrity as “me being me”. And taking criticism of output as a personal attack.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s good to understand what makes you tick and nice to be able to put a Myers-Briggs archetype on the way you behave, but it shouldn’t be an excuse to stay that way if you’re pissing people off or doing a bad job.

And, by the way, we’re doing a bad job.

I used to work for a large company whose organisational focus was always on protection of the staff as a priority. Now, this is admirable in theory, and if we lived in a marxist utopia I’m sure there would be grain for all, but it doesn’t really work in practice. Because the emphasis in teams was always to avoid any kind of disagreement, criticism of work just didn’t happen at any level. It’s as if the staff ego couldn’t be damaged in case it nudged the id out of its role as corporate worker bee. Criticism of work was considered criticism of the person, and that led to things like “conflict management” workshops and “valuing the difference” exercises. Performance management just didn’t happen.

The result of this? A room full of people in enormously secure jobs who didn’t know what they fuck they were doing. And had no idea that they didn’t know what they were doing.

This is what we’re seeing on a massive scale in our industry now.

We’ve all seen graduates who think they’re successful entrepreneurs after half arsing one logo and two blogs. We’ve gawped at CEOs who claim they’re “changing the world” by charging people a fortune for websites.  And can you honestly say you’ve never winced when you had to execute a campaign that some superior handed to you with all the bullish, idiotic glee of someone with a brain full of nothing but self-esteem and warm piss.

It’s Dunning-Kruger in full glorious technicolour effect, but with an instagram filter and a reassurance that you never ever need to learn more and climb down from “mount stupid”. You’re just fine the way you are. Everyone else just doesn’t understand you and why you’re so unique and special.  

Dunning Kruger Effect

I feel like the only cure is for everyone to have a fat dose of low self-esteem. You’re not a well rounded adult until you’ve had a seriously gloomy couple of years where you actually question everything you say and do and assume you’re always wrong and likely to be corrected/sacked/dumped/declared bankrupt.

Because all this high self esteem is killing me, and making us all worse at our jobs. 

Note: This post originally appeared on the Habanero Digital blog meaning certain parts are probably weirdly self referential or talk about ongoing feuds that probably exist almost exclusively in the mind of the author.

Digital Jobs Marketing Social Media

by Swanchita Haze

The true identity of Swanchita is a mystery wrapped in an enigma. We receive her blog submissions written by hand using ink on parchment, delivered by a small Dickensian orphan boy.

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