Hell, I always thought Bill Woods was a run-of-the-mill journo who used to present Sports Tonight. Now I have a whole new level of respect for him.
Time for a reality check for the whole crazy world
January 10, 201310:30PM
IT'S all self-promotion, branding, meaningless mantras and slogans that say nothing, writes Bill Woods.
YOU can talk about new year resolutions until Shane Warne gets a wrinkle on his face but it's time we recognised that all our resolutions are part of a greater inconvenient truth: Western civilisation is adrift on a rising tide of bullshit called "self-promotion".
Back in the '70s (the good old days) during hours of physical work with my old man, he was fond of dropping phrases like "say nothing and saw wood". It upset him greatly that I chose to go off to university instead of remaining a carpet layer.
Dad believed in productivity, not talk, and he feared that I would turn into some flabby weirdo who did nothing in life but smoke dope and quote Proust at dinner parties. Many of those people are now running the nation, a nation that is losing the ability to "do" things because we are too busy talking about things.
Creating a "brand" has become such a fundamental part of our lives it is not just about how corporations approach business but how governments approach policy and how we approach each other.
Self-promotion in the workplace has been around for decades but was usually confined to irritating wankers who were laughed at by everyone, including the boss. Now it's become institutionalised. What damages us is not just the vomit-inducing self-indulgence. It's young people being encouraged to spend less time on productivity and skill and more time on fostering "relationships" with those who can help their careers. "It's not what you know but who you know" used to be a cautionary one-liner. Now it's the overriding rule.
Maybe it's because our big businesses have for so long been encouraging American corporate tomfoolery like walking on hot coals, abseiling and other self-awareness mumbo jumbo at the expense of something called "work". It's all about "positive affirmation" these days, "building your brand", reciting dozens of well-worn mantras stating the bleeding obvious. Remember, before you get a life coach you should first check to see if you have a life.
Bosses are saying things like "I gave that guy the position because he really wanted it. He was in my office every day telling me he was the best candidate. I admire that tenacity". I don't. Who was doing that idiot's job while he was in your office every day? Why weren't you doing what a manager is supposed to do - know your employees and what they're capable of? What happened to humility? It's the Australian way. We tend to cringe when sporting heroes don't show humility and yet we are destroying it everywhere else.
Then there are the more subtle "Claytons workers", those of limited ability who always look busy and focused, creating a whirlwind of hyperactivity to fool us into thinking they're doing something.
Where is the reward for those who are unfortunate enough to be so efficient that they make it look easy, or are so genuinely busy that they haven't the time to self-promote? Our society runs on high-octane hype. Everywhere you look there is something or someone on display saying "buy me", "believe me", "watch me" or "like me".
Corporations spend billions marketing "brands" and superiority when those brands represent the same low-cost products made in Third World sweatshops.
At least there has always been a healthy scepticism about products. What we can't cop is institutions, political parties and people becoming products, vying for our attention with tricks used by marketers.
Politicians are spending hundreds of millions of our dollars, not on infrastructure, but promoting their "brand" - policies and proclamations designed only to fill their sails until after the next election.
Sporting bodies are more concerned with promoting the elite, terrified of losing their market share to rival codes but neglecting the support base: Community development and encouraging young people to take up a healthy pastime. Even charities are increasingly forced to promote themselves - all manner of gimmickry to raise awareness using money they'd prefer to spend helping others.
Have we consumers become so lazy and ill-informed that we can't make our own value judgments? "Marketing" has also become an obligatory process in our personal life. "Networking" has morphed into something more subversive - fake relationships cultivated by fake people in the warmth of that vast greenhouse called social media.
We crowd our Facebook pages with desperate attempts to show a perception of ourselves. Twitter is cluttered with pretentious pap. If you want to really "cut through", maybe it's time to say nothing and saw wood.