I Hate Inspirational Facebook Update Pictures

The Facebook news feed was introduced to provide users with a constantly updating list of stories from their social network. I am sure, however, that your news feed – much like my own – functions as little more than a digital cavalcade of triviality, solipsism, credulity and occasional outright stupidity. Always patronizing and invariably trite, few things highlight social media’s banal and vapid side more than the “inspirational” update picture. They are an insult to the intelligence of any right thinking person and a waste of otherwise useful pixels. The popularity of the inspirational picture perfectly highlights western culture’s propensity for shallow self analysis and obsession with immediate validation.

Far from the philosophical reflection espoused in the Socratic maxim that “the unexamined life is not worth living,” the inspirational Facebook picture points more to self-delusion than retrospection; a thinking worryingly divorced from reality and primarily based around mawkish platitudes. In much the same way that Reality TV programming cynically employs music to add a sense of gravitas to otherwise trivial scenarios, these pictures combine pseudo-philosophical captions with an monotonously saccharine image to create an undeserved air of poignancy to the most hollow and disposable of ideas.

During a surprise set at the comedy store in LA in 2009, the comedian Dave Chappelle voiced his reservations on the massively successful self help publication, The Secret:

This girl I knew sent me a book called the “Secret”. She was like, listen David, this is gonna help you, it’s called the “Secret”. You know, I started reading the book and I read like 5 pages and shit and threw it in the trash… Do you know what this bitch says the secret of life is? She said it was positive imagery! You gotta visualize things you wanna have, happening in your life… Positive Imagery? Bitch, fly to Africa and tell one of them starving children that shit. “What’s wrong with you [children]?”
“I have not eaten in 5 days.”
“What you need to do is visualize some roast beef, mash potatoes with some gravy… The problem is that you have a bad attitude about starving to death.”

The majority of the inspirational pictures currently populating the internet sprout from the same seed that made The Secret such a success in that both substitute the unpredictable uncertainties of actual life in lieu of a culturally skewed and assured view of “growth,” progress and personal betterment. To be blunt, it’s a crock. Inspirational, motivational, aspirational: rubbish, all of it bull and codswallop.

14 Comments Add yours

  1. Dylan says:

    There are not enough like buttons in the world to convey how much I resonate with these sentiments.

    1. viewsplash says:

      I totally Agree! 😀

  2. One reason I left Facebook. I did not want to know what kinds of things actually motivate people I respect.

  3. Oh, I so very much agree with Dylan! My like buttons are not loading, so I decided to share my impressions here! Man! I agree with everything! And how about the not-so-inspirational, but equally patronizing and yet, bullying, images of somebody suffering, and the caption: “like with you agree that suffering children/mothers/animals deserve our respect”… and it makes one wonder: “oh, Gosh, I must hit the like button, otherwise, my fellow FB peers will think I’m not a good person…” It’d be laughable if it wasn’t so true [and sad!] Inspirational pictures??? Like if you agree! [‘ cause I won’t… gave on on FB several months back… and the inspirational pictures, coupled with the comments that went along with it, played a huge part of my decision!]. Thank you so much for sharing this – loved it!

  4. alienorajt says:

    Bloody well said! I quite agree! The inspirational picture invariably makes me feel homicidal – and forces me, at the same time, to reach for a bucket!

  5. The only thing worse than the inspirational pictures are the inspirational stories that people pass around.

  6. sorayajan says:

    I don’t know why I like this but I do. The “Secret” thing did it for me. I’ve started to scroll past those pictures in my news feed because I find them annoying, especially the ones I’ve already seen ten times.

  7. LAMarcom says:

    Best post I have read today!

    Hit ‘Like’ if you think all lepers should have free beer.

  8. My inner monologue has never been more vindicated than right now, reading this. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

  9. Jody says:

    So you’re saying the picture of the little kitten dangling precariously from a tree branch under the caption, “Hang in There!” hasn’t gotten you through life’s trials and tribulations? Yeah, me neither!
    I couldn’t possibly agree more if I tried!

    1. Ha ha, thanks, that’s a great comment

  10. Cletus says:

    I had to use a dictionary to read what you wrote, but after understanding it, I agree wholeheartedly.

  11. reesa monet says:

    Vapid motivational quotes are the diarrhea of slow brains.

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