Yesterday, an acquaintance of mine who works in the personal growth industry opined in a mini-blog entry that “popular does not equal profound.”
He was referring to the motivational quotes, pictures, and memes that you often see on your Facebook and Twitter feeds, which often garner hundreds or even thousands of “likes” and reactions. His point was that if something is particularly popular, that probably means it’s not something that “challenges” people or brings them out of their comfort zones. Thus, he suggests, that content can’t be of much worth in helping people change their lives.
I get, and appreciate, his point. And I told him so.
But I also think “popular does not equal profound” kind of misses a more important point.
To the contrary, I’d say: something does not need to be profound to change someone’s life.
It doesn’t need to be deep.
It doesn’t need to come from Einstein, or Steve Jobs, or the Buddha, or even Dr. Glenn Doyle.
In order to change someone’s life, a quote, a picture, a meme, a blog entry, whatever— does need to be memorable.
It needs to be applicable to where you are in your journey, right here, right now. It needs to speak to YOU, in such a way you’re able to hear it and take it in.
It needs to be accessible and understandable.
Something that has an impact on you may or may not be “popular” online. It may or may not have accrued hundreds of “likes.” It may or may not resonate with “the masses.” But the fact of the matter is, it doesn’t really matter how “popular” it is, or even how “profound” it pretends to be.
If it doesn’t speak to you in a way that you can actually USE, it’s useless.
In the personal development field generally, and on the Internet specifically, you’re going to run into all kinds of people who are very invested in influencing what you allow to influence you. It’s easy to scorn “motivational quotes” that go around as superficial, and it’s common for some people to try to shame you if you happen to find those quotes and memes and articles uplifting, useful, inspiring.
You know what? Screw ‘em.
Screw anybody who tries to make you feel embarrassment about something you find empowering.
Different things speak to different people. Different people need different things at various times in their lives.
Some people respond well to “tough love” approaches. Some people have had more than enough “tough love” in their lives, and need to feel compassion and empathy before they can move forward.
Some people benefit enormously from complex analysis, because they need to know the intricate “why’s” of their situation before they feel comfortable making and acting on a plan. Other people get lost in and overwhelmed by too much analysis, and need to boil things down to the basics— a direction, a push one way or another.
It’s easy to decry popular, seemingly superficial content as “pandering” to the masses. Are there some content creators who do this, just to garner as big an audience as possible? Sure, I suppose.
But my observation is, you never know what’s going to move or speak to or be meaningful to or motivate a specific person. Content that one person finds superficial and pandering may be something another person finds inspirational and provocative.
“Popular” may not equal “profound,” as my acquaintance wrote.
But “profound” does not necessarily equal “useful,” would be my response— and I don’t know bout him, but I’m in the business of realistically changing people’s lives, not producing “profundity” that is only accessible to a select few.
Dig what the Doc has to say? How about “liking” and following the Dr. Glenn Doyle Facebook page? Blog updates on Tuesdays and Thursdays, messages and quotes from the Doc, picture quotes, announcements of the Doc’s new projects…you know you wanna.