Inspirational quotes memes are the new motivational poster, which means they have to be demotivated.
I remember when I was working in a corporate office setting years ago, the big trend was to fill the walls with “motivational posters.” You probably remember them; a black background framing a stunning, uplifting image of an animal or human doing something above and beyond or against the grain. There would be a big, positive-sounding word followed by an inspirational quote. You know, something like this…
Wow. These kind of posters are really uplifting the first time you see them. Look at that guy. If I only expect high things, I can make high achievements. For just a moment, you think to yourself, life is good and it can be even better, if I believe! And maybe it’ll even fuel a bit more pep in your step and productivity in the rest of your workday.
Unfortunately, I found these motivational posters had a sum of diminishing returns effect to them. The first time you see them, you feel inspired for an hour. The second time, a few minutes. Then after a third, fourth, fifth, the pep factor drops rapidly until it’s like no effect. Eventually, you look at the poster and think to yourself, “wow, what a crock of shit!”
The worst part of it is that these posters would be physically present, hung on the wall, and left there as a constant reminder of how the little the company’s management actually attempts to try to motivate employees.
Trying to seriously discuss employee morale with management would often result in a trite justification of status quo along the lines of “we don’t understand why people would bother leaving our company. We pay in line with industry standards, so it can’t be about the money. And everywhere else you go work, you’ll work basically the same hours. So people should be perfectly satisfied to be working here. But check out this wonderful motivational poster in my office to learn what it takes to get ahead of the pack.”
Yeah, thanks for the pep talk, boss.
It was only a matter of time before someone got inspired by the lack of inspiration actually gained from motivational posters and thus “demotivational posters” were born.
Despair, Inc. did a pretty awesome job of cutting those motivational posters down to size. I got addicted to these demotivators when I was in the corporate environment, because let’s face it, these really spoke to the truth of working in the corporate environment.
Eventually, I stopped seeing the motivational posters as much (I guess they fell out of vogue), but with the explosion of social media, something else seems to have risen up to take their place… the inspirational quotes meme.
You’ll probably see like 10-20 of them a day in your Facebook or Instagram feed. Friends posting up a little something to bring a little positivity to what has become a daunting social media landscape filled with rage, rants, fake news, and political pugilism.
You can’t blame your friends for posting these, can’t blame yourself for reposting them. Trying to bring a little inspiration to people is a good thing, right? And at least these memes come and go out of your life quickly, give you a quick little motivation boost and then disappear.
The problem is that these insprirational quotes had a sum of diminishing returns thing going as well. And even worse, I got addicted… like I mean really addicted.
At first I’d get my little boost and go on, but eventually I started feeling myself needing more and more inspiration, especially as I’d see the rest of social media filling up with more negativity.
I’d wake up, look at my phone, and be like, “ok, Facebook, give me something to inspire me to be great today, inspire me to love what I’m doing with my life, inspire me to get out of bed. Found one! Damn it, not inspirational enough!”
I’d cycle through pages and pages of selfies, food pictures, “look at these damn liberals” posts, “look at these damn conservatives” posts. I’d be looking for that one perfect thing that would give me the motivation to keep calm and carry on. But sometimes it would never come.
I’d be like, come on Internet, give me one more hit, I’ll pay you back next week, I’ll do anything, I’ll suck your….
“WAIT A MINUTE!” I finally thought to myself one day. What was I doing? I was falling for that same hollow, motivational poster b.s. that I was able to see through so easily before.
I got hooked. Social media turned into the baking powder and glass pipe that, when added to that pure cocaine combo of inspiration quotes and motivational imagines, cooked up crack. What I’m sure started off as a little diverting fun for many, has slowly turned into an epidemic of searching for hollow positivity.
Once I realized that, I decided I was going to change for the better. I cut out searching social media for positive inspiration. Now I get my motivation from reading a book or a taking a walk to get some fresh air, meeting with friends for coffee, setting realistic goals to accomplish actual things each day. I’d meme these things, but why be an enabler to others who are struggling through an inspirational quote meme habit?
I take my inspirational quote meme intake in moderation. I blocked some sites that were constant streetcorner style inspirational quote dealers. Plus, I’ve been introduced recently to the concept of “dank memes” recently, basically the meme equivalent of those demotivatiibal posters of back in the day. Those have been my anti-drug.
So in line with that new thinking, when I came across this meme yesterday.
I just knew I had to take it down a couple of notches.
Jerry Lewis in King of Comedy by Martin Scorcese
So the next time someone decides to put up a motivational meme up on their timeline, watch out… because it might just get demotivated.