I know what you are thinking, “those pain medications are really getting to his head.” Unfortunately I’m not talking about narcotic pain medication in the title. I was going over some (un)conscious marketing blogs today, and I started noticing a theme in the rhetoric of the authors. Almost each and every one of them rants and raves about how everything is “awesome.” When rhetorically analyzing a text, it is important to explore what words the text uses, and how those words contribute directly to the text’s persuasiveness. It didn’t take long for me to build an initial hypothesis about how and why such a flood of “awesome” positivity exists in this subculture: it’s all in the hype.
Too Much of a Good Thing
Positivity itself is ubiquitous in personal development culture, primarily because generally positive moods are very persuasive when impressed upon the ordinary un-critical consumer. Impressed attitudes of positivity also have the effect of wiping out all criticism of the guru and their process. If you’ve been around Beyond Growth for any time at all, you’ve probably realized that our blog is built on a foundation of criticism; we believe criticism to be absolutely vital when personally developing, inside and outside of its popular culture. As a result of this positive culture, we find that it becomes quite easy for a guru to sell products and services when he makes it clear that criticism is not allowed, and only a rose-colored glasses outlook paves the path of success.
While the conscious capitalist culture’s use of positivity is much less underplayed than in pop-personal development, it is deeply ingrained and used heavily. As far as my research goes thus far, no other word defines the (un)conscious marketer more than the word “awesome.” A few rough searches using Google site search brought this even more into perspective: Mark Silver’s blog brought up 46 mentions, Jonathan Mead’s blog has 67 results for the word, Clay Collins’ ProjectMojave.com had 93, and finally Charlie Gilkey’s blog showed 105. While many of these posts are likely in the comments, and there could be doubles, this gives us an interesting look at the word choice of the culture. Not unwilling to critique myself, I ran a search on Beyond Growth and found four hits, three of which were comments, and one in a post. Humorously enough, it was my critique of Mead’s “Freedom Manifesto” containing the word “awesome” and it seems I subconsciously picked up his wording and used it in my criticism.
An Overdose of Hype is More Like It
It would be easily possible for me to write an entire book on the rhetorical choices of the (un)conscious marketing movement (which I may do). For now I just want to explore closer to the surface, to get a lay of the land of their persuasive techniques. Then, what do these bloggers use the word “awesome” for? They use it to describe products, people, blogs, videos, themselves, and the list goes on. My initial hypothesis is that this boils down to hype. Why not just present the content or people with less of a skew? They use the word “awesome” because this culture absolutely depends upon recommendations, leveraging networking, and trading customers. Adding a positive light to these recommendations definitely increases sales across the board. So who then benefits from this deluge of “awesome?” Could it be that the (un)conscious marketers are just using the same old tricks of the cult of positivity, all the while claiming that they are “different,” “conscious,” and more “awesome?” These marketers are just spreading the hype around … and I’m having an overdose.
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