Great Titles, Hollow Posts

“Great Titles, Hollow Posts” or “People don’t know how to give advice” or “Most people write to sell themselves shamelessly”. So many titles I could have chosen for this post.

Aren’t you tired of reading bullshit? Don’t you feel you have wasted your precious time by reading “inspirational posts” that teach you nothing? We all pick the posts we read based on the title, so it becomes a hook. Titles promise us to provide good advice, to tell us a story that will open our eyes because we were oh so wrong. But most of them, I would say a whopping 99% are just people bragging about their accomplishments, disguised as advise, because their experience *could* inspire us to follow their steps. Nope, it can’t, and it won’t. I mean, really, think about it.

Dude Mister X tells you how he dropped school, spent 10 years banging around desperately and eventually someone gave him the one opportunity he needed to really shine. Yawn. Well done buddy, but how that helps me or anyone else.

Recruiter Miss Y, full of herself, reproduces imaginary conversations where a candidate gets crazy and turns a genius mind reader, turning the interview around and putting another recruiter -not her, because she’s SO clever- to shame with his mind-blowing personality and gets the job. And thus all the other candidates are pure crap that don’t deserve the air they breathe.

Some couple tell their story, where they both quit their jobs because they were so stressed -poor people-, and they decided to travel the world and blog about it. They became rich and here there’s a a sample of our wonderful life in pictures, videos and embedded advertisement.

Thank you, really, how could I live without following your steps. I should quit my job and travel, I suck at interviews because I don’t read minds, I am a terrible recruiter because I actually dare to prepare my interviews… madness!

I get we all invest our time writing posts for a reason (i.e.: stand out, show off our Big Brains). Let’s be honest, our advise, our experience, hardly helps anyone out there, unless we let aside our ego and cut to the chase. Can we find a better job after being fired? Sure we can. Can we find success and happiness if we risk it all and switch careers? Of course. Could we cut down our work hours to try to have a better work/life balance? Yes, we can. And it’s very positive that these kind of messages are flooding the Internet right now, really. But if all we read about are really long posts about how cool and super brilliant Guy Mr. X or Recruiter Lady Y think they are, there’s no message there. It’s an empty post, aimed at pure self-promotion.

So, how do you identify these kind of useless long reads? These are not scientific facts, but here’s my experience, and I will share it in case it helps you!

  • The post has a title that promises to help you with the last trending First World Problem, i.e.: How To Get Your (client/boss/colleague) to (love/respect/fall in love with) your (product/outfit/accent).
    The first paragraph explains the real meaning of the title, because maybe it wasn’t ostentatious enough. Or maybe it changes the subject completely, because, after all, you have already clicked and the view count has already been incremented, so what the heck, why bothering being useful to you after that?
  • 90% of the following paragraphs will explain a personal experience that you can maybe relate to, but it will be that person’s experience and it will be unique and specific to that person’s circumstances and context. You can’t take any of that, probably, because all the details you could use yourself are nulled in favour of those that make the author shine. The 10% after that won’t try to make an advise out of the fairytale, it will just explain how happy that person is with the outcome, how much he/she has learned from it, etc.
    Probably the writer is talking about a experience that, not surprisingly, is related to his/her area of expertise. So you might be tempted to further inquiry the author about that particular topic. You can do that but I bet you will have to pay for the advise. So again, the post served successfully as pure advertising.
  • The post is a list of X things you have to do if you want to achieve something, be a better person or smile at the office without looking creepy. There are lists for everything you can imagine, because these “List Articles” are extremely common and annoying. At any given moment you can see at least 2 List Articles in your feed. Go read them, you’ll see that unless they are providing a list of resources (links, tutorials, videos), they are extremely useless lists. But those posts are popular, so they’ll write them.

The little time we have to read, we should pick wisely. Titles are hooks, remember! They will try to lure you into clicking them and read at least a couple of paragraphs. But if reading is for you something more than brainless time-killing, my honest advise is that you learn by yourself to identify what works for you, which posts really motivate you or make your day, then discard the others. My experience is surely useless for you because hey, we don’t have the same criteria, but I hope you got the message. And I am not selling it to you, it’s completely free.

Happy reading!

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