De-motivational talks

One thing I have wondered is, why aren’t there any de-motivational TED talks or seminars. I would like to see a talk where the speaker fails at what he or she set out to do, and that is the entire presentation. There is no turnaround or comeback. Why are there no talks promoting ‘negative thinking’ rather than positive thinking, even though the former is likely more accurate /applicable (things tends to get worse, not better, and the worse outcome tends to be the more likely one).

People need to be told their lives will mostly suck and be full of disappointment. I know several people and their lives are all bad to varying degrees; two had businesses that failed and never recovered; a divorce; fatal illness in family; an aunt with intractable mental disease; a business contact who was financially ruined by buying crypto currency (I tried to warn him), and so on. None of their lives recovered. There was no silver lining, turnaround, or light at the end of the tunnel; just an unending spiral of darkness.

Why do you think “turnaround stories” whether in business or life are so inspiring. Because they are uncommon. Things seldom turn around.

Look at the opioid epidemic in the United States. None those people’s lives are gonna get better. Many of these lives and communities are so blighted that there is no hope. And let’s not forget the leading cause of bankruptcy: medical bills. Apparently it is very expensive to get sick in America. Or the 2008 financial crisis, which a decade later has still left a permanent mark. The answer is, such a message would not sell or it’s politically incorrect. If it sold, you would see it. In other words, people are paying good money to be lied to.

All this self-help positive-thinking stuff gets it ass-backwards. It’s not that being positive and motivated leads to success, but that successful, rich people are more likely to feel positive and motivated. Why do you think Tony Robbins is so happy? Because his advice works? No, because of all the money he makes.

Yet there are many who want the truth laid bare even if it’s unpleasant. This possibly explains the appeal of Dr. Jordan Peterson and maybe also stoicism, because his message is aligned with this reality. He says with no equivocation that “life is full of suffering” and that you need to “get your act together” and “pickup your suffering and bear it.” The only power one has in life is to try to minimize the chaos in order to avoid the alternative, what he calls hell.

Some say the answer is in god or that Christianity is the ‘bedrock’ of civilization, but I disagree with both, and this is where I depart from Dr. Peterson to some degree. The success of Silicon Valley, for example, which is secularist, is evidence it’s possible to have thriving economies without religion. Same for Northern Europe, which is economically more successful relative to Southern Europe and Eastern Europe despite being less religious. Same for the post-1980’s boom of China’s economy. Meanwhile, towns and cities with high rates of Christianity, whether it’s black Christians in the South, white Christians up North, or Hispanics down South, seem to have a lot of poverty and dysfunction. Same for Islam; Middle Eastern countries are always at war with each other. I have nothing against religion or religious people, but like motivational speeches, it seldom accomplishes what it sets out to do.