Posted on December 15, 2010 by Colin

Secular Blogging Religions and Healthy Skepticism

 

The blogosphere is a world full of people with answers.

Want to make money fast? I’ve got some marketing tips to throw your way.

Want to pick up women? Don’t worry, with this e-product, you’ll be irresistible.

Want to be a better person and live a better life? Fear not, Minimalism/lifestyle design/location independence/entrepreneurship will save you and all will be well with all things, always and forever. Amen.

The thing is that none of the answers given is THE answer. I know this because there IS no one, true answer. There’s no sure-fire money-making model, path to happiness or moral absolute.

But in the blogging world, you’ve got to streamline and emphasize your messages so that they are easily-understood and digested by the largest number of people possible (if you want to be a professional blogger, anyway). Otherwise, the notoriously finicky and A.D.D. population of the Internet will browse right past you, leaving your manifesto unread, your egoods unbought and your rallying cry unheard.

The end result is what you see available now; smart folks with lots of good ideas talking about one thing as if it’s the be-all end-all of philosophical thought. It seems like there aren’t any idea people left…just revolutionaries. Everything is a movement instead of just a good idea, because people don’t listen to good ideas but they like insurrection.

After all, if it bleeds, it leads.

Take Minimalism, for example (something I write about and am well-acquainted with). The Internet has exploded with Minimalist bloggers; all reducing their number of possessions, talking about Tyler Durden (that’s actually a common theme for just about every category of blog…do a search and tell me I’m wrong) and expressing the benefits of their newly-chosen lifestyle to the world.

And this is great, don’t get me wrong! I consider myself a Minimalist, and though I may take a slightly different approach to the philosophy than some other adherents, I think the enthusiasm I’ve been seeing for the ideas and ideals of Minimalism is great…it’s nice to see people get excited about something that I consider to be a good approach to life.

What we all need to keep in mind, however, is the danger of assuming that because a blogger focuses on and writes about one topic all the time that what they are discussing is THAT important.

I see Minimalism as a challenge and a philosophy that fits with how I wanted to live my life anyway, but it’s not a religion. If you were to ask me if it’s important I would answer ‘To me, it’s very important!’

If you were to ask me if it’s the most important thing in the world, however, I would say ‘Of course not. It’s just one of many good ideas that works for some people. I like it, and you might too, but maybe not. Let’s get a drink.’

Viva la revolution.

Blogs, by their very nature, are marketing tools. Anyone who tells you they know all the answers is trying to sell you something, and many of the people who don’t make this claim are as well.

Most bloggers mean well – myself included – and aren’t intentionally trying to deceive, but we all must necessarily leave out potentially pertinent information in order to convey an idea clearly.

Remember that – and the fact that you’re being sold to – and take in ideas a la carte rather than wholesale, constructing your own philosophy as you go along rather than submitting to the secular blogging religion of an e-guru (or any guru, for that matter).

Good ideas are only good until they become dogmatic, and Minimalism, location independence, lifestyle design, internet marketing, entrepreneurship, blogging and every other idea (read: product) that’s being pitched by a choir of adherents are great so long as you approach them the same way you’d approach a box of chocolates: take a few pieces that you especially like and that suit your palette, then leave the rest for other people to munch on.

Eating the whole box can be satisfying, of course, but the consequences can be a real bitch.

An open mind is important to growing as a human being, but a skeptical nature keeps us from swimming in a sea of meaningless prattle and false revolutions.