Mindful Monday: Informational Pet Peeves

Why does it seem like everyone online is a “Snake Oil Salesman“?

• Life Coaching
• Consulting
• Earn Residual Income
• Affiliate Marketing
• Work less, earn more
• Eat more, weigh less
• Destress and feel better
. . . but wait . . . There’s more!

Now, I’m not saying these things aren’t valid or that the people behind them are charlatans. Not at all. I truly believe that the majority of people who are doing and promoting these things genuinely believe in them and want to be of help to others while being able to support themselves and their families.

I guess I’m just tired of being hyped at All. The. Time.

Going online these days feels like walking through an old time carnival midway with the game tenders and sideshow callers all yelling out to, “Win this prize!” and “Don’t miss this unbelievable and limited time opportunity!” exhortations to leave your money in their pockets. I guess, I’m just an old-fashioned “Lookie Lou” looking at everything I can, not parting with a dime.

I get it, I really do. This economy sucks and often working for others can suck as well. Trying to find a living wage job that won’t suck the life out of you in this economy is virtually impossible. So, you become an entrepreneur selling your own service or product, an affiliate marketer, or sign up for an MLM. Then, it seems everything you say and do from that moment forward becomes about self-promotion in order to raise awareness and build your business.

There isn’t really anything wrong with any of that. I just get tired of feeling like every time I am doing research or just looking for something interesting to read, I’m being asked to fill out a form and sign up for newsletters and email updates. 99% of my emails are from these types of things and I just haven’t taken the time to unsubscribe. Mostly the emails in my inbox just sit until I can scan through them and bulk delete them.

I think what bothers me most is how often reading the email or blog post with the eye-grabbing title often leaves me feeling like I opened a bag of my favorite potato chips to discover the contents had settled so much that the bag contained 3/4 air. I really hate that.

As a writer trying to figure out how to make the transition from writing for solely personal reasons to writing for an income, I am interested in learning from others, but am not in a position to pay for consultation or instruction.

Which is another thing that truly bothers me. There’s this sales technique/mindset/belief system that basically states that if a person isn’t “investing” in her/himself, then he or she isn’t serious, committed, confident, or any number of adjectives that are the foundation that supposedly assures success. Money isn’t the only investment and if it ain’t there, it ain’t there.

I don’t have an income of my own due to health and family circumstances. The income my family does have is barely keeping us afloat. For all intents and purposes, I am an orphan with no family – the family that I do have is in the same rickety financial boat as I am. Because of health and life circumstances (including poor money management skills) my credit is trashed and I don’t have a credit card. I guess you could say I have confidence issues. But they are based in reality. The reality that says, that there is never a guaranteed return and I care too much about asking anyone I know to risk their money on a venture I am interested in and believe I am capable of doing but cannot realistically commit to paying them back, even if they had the money in the first place.

I recently watched a video on recruiting in an MLM business, where the speaker spoke of this very mindset and how it inspired him as an 18 year old, to use his mother’s credit card, without her permission, after her telling him she wouldn’t give him the money, in order to invest in himself and invest in the business. It turned out well and he was able to pay her back with interest. Now he looks and sounds like he’s very well off, financially and loving his life. Yet, I was left with the question of integrity: “Did the ends justify the means?” Is any amount of financial gain worth risking the relationship damage that lying and stealing from a loved one would engender, even if I could pay that person back? Not in my book.

Sorry for the digression. Where were we?

That’s right, I feel like I opened a bag of air, instead of potato chips.

As a writer in transition, I like to read and learn from others who have made the transition. I like to see how they write, what they write about, and what they have to say on the subject of writing. So, a blog post offering writing tips that dropped the name of a well known novelist, caught my attention. I was anticipating the post author excerpting examples of the novelist’s work and identifying the specifics of why she thought it had worked.

Instead, it was a fluff piece where she shared that she’d spent a few days at someone’s old beach house, reading a novel. Her advice? Write an interesting story that grabs people’s attention and engages the readers.

Hmm, well, of course that’s what every writer wants to do. How about some specific, concrete examples of what made that particular novelist’s book so interesting, attention grabbing, and interesting?

It was a pleasant post to read. It was formatted well and she told her beach trip story in an interesting and engaging way. However, it didn’t offer the content the packaging implied would be found within.

Looking up symptoms and trying to research treatment options that I can afford and are realistic, is the same way, only worse.

Did you ever see, “Man on the Moon,” the movie where Jim Carrey portrayed Andy Kauffman? *Spoiler Alert* Kauffman has become deathly ill and the prognosis is not good. He winds up going to a third world country for a miracle healing and watches the person working on him get his hands bloody and fake like he had pulled the thing that was making Kauffman sick from his body. The look of profound, sorrowful realization that he’d been taken for a sucker, was intense.

There are too many people promising cures and solutions to physical and psychological conditions to those who are desperately and genuinely seeking information and methods to obtain relief. We think we’ve found a site that offers solid information, only to realize it’s just another offer to spend money on another proprietary blend or formula, buy their book, or sign up for their treatment services and the information being offered is yet another rehash of what we already know.

In the path to health, happiness, and joyful living, helping others is often identified as a component in living a fulfilling and relevant life. Somehow, I don’t think that means telling people you are helping them only to give them false hope and take them for everything they’ve got, except for cab fare home.

As I move forward in my plan to become a writing entrepreneur, I want to make sure that the content I write about here is relevant, informative, and constructive. I don’t want to repackage or rehash the information you already know and sell it in a new way. I don’t want to hype myself and my writing up to be what we aren’t just to get traffic or get a sale.

On the flip side of that remains the task of identifying what it is I have to offer, how to offer it, and develop ways to interact with readers and others that are about more than the sale. I prefer the model of a storekeeper who knows how to help his customers figure out what they need and offering them more affordable solutions and alternatives.

Are there sites you visit repeatedly for content value that also market a product or service?