This morning I read 7 Reasons Why You Will Never Do Anything Amazing With Your Life by Raymmar Tirado. It’s a painfully accurate article about the way that today’s youth consume the world through the lens of Buzzfeed and UpWorthy, usually driven by their friends comments of, "OMG, SO true!"
I love the article. I love its message. I love the way that Tirado summarizes the issues with the products of our education system and emphasizes the benefits of living the way that he and I do: consuming quality, thought-provoking, intellectual content; parsing news to get to the truth of a matter; defining your own measure of success; bettering yourself everyday by taking to heart the best advice you find; pushing yourself towards your personal renaissance. I love it.
So what’s the issue?
The extremely adversarial tone of the article trivializes the existence of college students, likely turning the target audience away from the message. Tirado even acknowledges that fact in his anger:
Because you are probably not reading this article even though you know you should.
Had I not the stubbornness of a man trying to move a hippopotamus with his bare hands I likely would have stopped reading when Tirado started calling me names and trivializing the past that isn’t even mine. I do, however, possess the aforementioned gall so I soldiered through. The article continues to berate those who aren’t making an effort to improve themselves everyday as well as those who spend any amount of time consuming mindless, pointless information.
Again, I love the article. I love that Tirado has justified my life choices. I love that his article basically says, "Trezy, you’re doing it right." However, this is the kind of masturbation that people are indulging in everytime they read, "10 Things You Didn’t Know About Disney Movies." They’re getting an opportunity to justify that they’re intelligent in some way by saying, "I totally knew about all of those except for #9." Indulging that justification for a different audience — in this case, self-made people like Tirado and myself — is no different than what the producers of trash content are doing. Tirado even admits that he’s doing this deliberately:
Because the people that are reading this already know these things.
Alright asshole, what’s your point?
I’m not trying to belittle Tirado’s article in any way. I’ll say it at least one more time — I love the article. It contains a message that I wish every college graduate would hear. I wish it was a freaking commencement speech.
In its current tone, however, it will never reach that audience. It will be read over and over and over by people like Tirado and myself and praised because, "OMG, SO true!" The audience that it needs to reach will rarely finish it and, if they do, they’re unlikely to affect themselves by it.
Oh. Well… shit.
Yeah, I know. This isn’t something that can’t be dealt with, though. While reading the article I noticed it lacking any call to action. Nowhere was it written, "This is a way to become better informed," nor was it entitled, "7 Ways To Do Something Amazing With Your Life." Without a path to enlightenment the people that would benefit from it are left with nothing more than a bad taste in their mouths. They’ll likely go off to play some Xbox while they "think about it."
Without a call to action, nobody will benefit from a piece as inspirational as Tirado’s. Those that already follow the path will take pleasure in their indulgence and those that don’t will be left wondering how they can be better.
So what’s your call to action?
Write with a call to action in mind, duh. Well... I guess there’s more to it than that.
It needs to be apparent and focused. I’d be wrong to claim that Tirado’s article doesn’t have a call to action at all because it does and is easily summarized — be better. It’s not focused, however. An uninformed reader would likely take away from the article that Tirado is just an angry, crotchety old grinch that regularly yells at the youngsters to, "GET OFF MY LAWN."
Disseminating the points
Breaking down Tirado’s paths to enlightenment isn’t too hard, though:
- Because You Have Not Failed Enough Walk into a high school classroom or college lecture hall. Ask a simple question: "How do you think our president is doing and why?" You’ll likely see exactly nobody jump up to answer. We are so afraid of failure that we usually don’t even try. If you don’t try then you’ll never fail and you’ll never succeed. You’re likely to fail a lot and that’s not a bad thing. Learn from your failures and the failures of others and eventually success won’t be so far away.
- Because You Care What Others Think About You I usually try to do the right thing regardless of what others think. If I didn’t, I’d never do anything at all. I hold a great many unpopular opinions and I have lost friends to them before but I will continue to hold them because I believe in them. Caring about what others think is putting yourself on the fast track to being useless to the world because without strong opinions, you will never do anything amazing. Never compromise the things you care about, especially for somebody else.
- Because You Think You Are Smarter Than You Are Don’t expect that you know anything just because you have a degree. There are billions of people in the world. Most of them know more than you. Learn from them, then learn some more. When you think you’re done, keep learning.
- Because You Don’t Read Good places to find quality content depend on what kind of content you’re looking for but no matter the topic, they do exist. King amongst the general reading is Medium. Google News is another great way to keep up with the world. Everybody should have information sources that they read regularly. If you never read then you’ll rarely learn.
- Because You Lack Curiosity Devouring what you read and hear as fact will always leave you wanting. Until you know a truth for yourself, nothing should be considered true. Always dive deeper, get a second opinion, find another source, and get to the truth of it. Not everything has to have a conspiracy theory but then again… not all conspiracy theories are wrong. Curiosity may have killed the cat but it sure as hell hasn’t killed Edward Snowden yet.
- Because You Don’t Ask Enough Questions Let’s go back to the high school classroom. When the professor offers to answer questions you’re likely to hear… silence. Our culture is still raising us to become a part of the industrial complex where you don’t stand up, you don’t ask questions, and you always do as you’re told. The world of today requires so much more than that. If you’re not asking questions and you’re always doing what you’re told then you remain just another cog in the machine. Unless you start to ask questions you’ll never find yourself coming closer to the truth.
- Because You Can’t Handle The Truth Many people find comfort in hiding behind a wall of ignorance and I get that. Those people, though, are the ones contributing to every problem we face as a society: ignorance about science prevents scientific advancement; ignorance about technology prevents technological advancement; ignorance about the world prevents the elimination of racism and anti-global views. You don’t have to be an expert on any of these things and, in fact, shouldn’t claim to be. Keep an open mind. The world becomes so much more interesting when you do.
Write for the right audience
I hope it’s clear by now that I love Tirado’s article. I just don’t love that he wrote it for me. If you’re not trying to make a difference in this world then you’re doing it wrong. That’s the point. The list I made isn’t as clear of a path as I’d like it to be… but I think it’s a good start.