Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez were slugging it out at the Malaysian MotoGP. The way they were going at each other, something had to give. And it did!
Rossi pushed Marquez off his bike.
I was furious! “FUCK YOU ROSSI!” I screamed, running towards the TV. “WHO THE FUCK DO YOU THINK YOU ARE!”
My mother came running from the kitchen. “What happened, Vishal?”
"GO BACK TO YOUR WORK, WOMAN!” I shouted, and continued hurling abuses at Rossi.
Okay, that didn’t happen. Here is the real version.
Rossi pushed Marquez off his bike. I sat up in my chair and said “Ooh!”
Mom handed me a plate, saying “ ‘Ooh’ ke bacche, yeh le khaana kha (Stop shouting and eat your food).” And I ate, quietly wondering whether Rossi would be penalized for that horrifying act or would get away scot-free yet again. You see, Rossi is to Dorna Sports (which governs MotoGP) what Robert Vadra is to the Indian National Congress.
Be honest. The first version sounded great, didn’t it? Like I really put myself out there, like it was heartfelt, like passion was running through my veins. You enjoyed reading it. But it wasn’t true. It was grossly exaggerated.
I had a conversation yesterday with a friend about James Altucher. Many of his articles have lines like:
“I’m sorry I lied to you that day I posted on……………..”
“…………and [I] didn’t answer until eventually she left, screaming my name.”
“Fuck you dad. RIP!”
She believes he writes from the heart (no offense dear friend, I know you’re reading this). And I said that he is the Chetan Bhagat of the United States. She scoffed.
Right on cue, James held an Ask Me Anything (AMA) on GrowthHackers last night. For the uninitiated, Growth Hackers is a fabulous portal where people share articles on content, growing a business and online marketing and more. And this was the description.
What did he think he would achieve by mentioning that he went into a ‘depression’ on GrowthHackers, a site dedicated to content marketing? Wait. Maybe this is content marketing. What if James knows that the most effective way for him to market his content (read 'books') is to berate himself? That enables millions to connect with his content, and buy his books.
Kanan Gill summed up the human attraction to grief and misery perfectly (I’m paraphrasing here)
“Suppose we maintain a diary. If we look at a day in 2014, we read about having stepped into a pile of dog shit. That’s all we focused on, that day. The good that occurred found no mention and was taken for granted.”
We like ruing over pain. And we gravitate towards people who share theirs with us. It makes them appear genuine, vulnerable. But is that what we need?
On one side, we have James Altucher who writes about how ‘fucked’ his life has been, in every post. And when I turn my head (or rather turn on the tele), I find yet another news channel slandering a man - something that they have indulged in for almost 15 years.
This man sold tea with his father when he was a child. His mother was a maid at others’ houses so that the family could make ends meet. He joined a political outfit and rose through the ranks to become the Chief Minister of his state. In 2002, a communal riot broke out. The world blamed him for it. The United States denied him a visa. The Supreme Court cleared his name, and he was elected the Prime Minister of India. But to this day, people call him a 'murderer', among millions of other derogatory terms. And he continues toiling to improve the condition of India, to empower the poor and make our country a global superpower. Yes, he is Narendra Modi.
Or consider MS Dhoni. The man has captained India to win every competition. But a couple of bad series and we (media and mango men) bay for his blood, prepare the scaffold and wait for the opportunity to take him to it in chains and celebrate with pomp along the way.
Dhoni and Modi are torchbearers of hope for millions across India and the world. And yet we treat them like dirt. If there are people who deserve to cry about how ‘fucked’ their lives are, these two deserve it the most. Yet, their steely determination shows in their eyes as they carry on their work, achieving in a single life what we will not achieve in seven. We, on the other hand, prefer reading stories of people who................. well...............
It’s fine to display emotions. The occasional display shows a side of you that people didn’t know, making you appear more human. But too much self deprecation or broadcasting of misery makes me feel uncomfortable, and it should make you feel the same. Life is about moving forward after all, yes?
James Altucher is fun to read. Please don't misunderstand this post as one saying that you must stop reading his stuff. But for inspiration, look at people who keep moving in spite of the odds rather than selling themselves based on them. It’s time you let people find place inside your heart based on what we want to do. Do you want to whine? Or do you want your life to be worth watching when it flashes by on your deathbed?
For each choice, you have options. Choose wisely.