INDIVISUAL MEDIA

00

IS GRATITUDE A PLATITUDE?

Gratitude.

They say it’s an attitude.

I say it’s a platitude.

Unless it’s not.

Over the next few days, our social media feeds will be hijacked by the usual suspects:

Mommy Bloggers.

Fashionistas.

RayBan Spammers.

Bored-Stay-At-Home-Influencers.

All of whom we love to hate and hate to love.

Under the influence of our influencers, the annual calendar begins to evoke an overly sentimental vibe; a prime excuse to boost your brand and amplify your voice.

Influencers are funny.

They’ll get all mushy and emotional about National Towel Day (May 25th, yes it’s a real thing), and National Lima Bean Respect Day (also a real thing: April 20th), and National Kiss A Ginger Day (yes, again, an actual thing: January 12th). Anything to boost the brand.

I think it’s pretty safe to assume that Thanksgiving will get its royal treatment of hashtags and topic-trends.

In the spirit of Thanksgiving (read: in the spirit of self-promotion) our Girl-Boss-Gucci-Gurus – who have somehow become the spiritual spokespeople of our generation – will enlighten us with uplifting messages of gratitude and blessings.

They will be syrupy and frothy.

They will amass likes and score followers.

They will win friends and influence people.

And they will ever-so-subtly remind us to patronize their sponsors.

But are these nuggets of wisdom sincere gestures of gratitude, or shallow and predictable seasonal platitudes?

Of course, I cannot, and will not, affirm or deny the emotional authenticity of our mommy-mentors.

I tend to be a skeptic, but that’s just defensive, unresolved childhood stuff (what isn’t?).

Maybe I’m just a cynic and a critic and a depressive Debby-Downer.

So my distaste for cliche may just be a symptom of my distaste for, well, everything.

Or maybe I’m just jealous of the Beautiful People.

Showcasing their beautiful lives.

And their glamorous date nights — most of which entail annoyed husbands playing photographers and Prada models, simultaneously.

I can’t speak for the Girl-Boss.

But I can speak for the Debby-Downer.

Let’s face it.

Gratitude has become a buzzword.

The problem with buzzwords is that their overuse renders them practically meaningless. Cliches are cliche for a reason. They aren’t false. They’re actually so true that they get repeated ad nauseam. And this repetition gradually dumbs them down. Until we become numb and impervious to the underlying message.

Terrorism is tragic.

Sexual abuse is tragic.

Political corruption is tragic.

But when these tragedies become fuel for an overflow of social commentary, exaggerated reactions, and hackneyed hashtags (usually within seconds of the breaking news), we have no chance to digest, internalize, reflect, and introspect. Heady stuff gets instantly diluted into brand-boosting, voice-amplifying fodder.

Listen.

I love social media.

I love stalking friends of friends and their fourth cousins.

But one of the many symptoms of an overly expressive, overly outspoken, overly sensationalistic culture is the gradual deadening of our senses. Not because your local Girl-Boss is a liar. She’s just regurgitating something so true that it soon becomes synthetic, trite, and hollow.

So let’s backtrack.

Before gratitude was a buzzword, what was it?

I discovered gratitude through the backdoor. By encountering and confronting its opponents:

Envy.

Entitlement.

Greed.

“He makes so much money.

Therefore, my life is inadequate.”

“They go on insane vacations.

Therefore, my life is inadequate.”

“He drives a Tesla (the more expensive one).

Therefore, my life is inadequate.”

It’s a song that never ends.

It just goes on and on, my friend…

Envy demands what they have.

Entitlement demands what we deserve.

Greed demands more.

And more.

And more.

What all of these charming traits have in common is an incessant obsession with what we don’t have and an equally incessant insistence that we get it ASAP, overnight, on demand.

Gratitude flips the script. Far from a synthetic platitude — it’s an equal and opposite obsession with what we do have. An awareness of abundance — perhaps not a Tesla, or a yacht, or a sexy paycheck, but a life full of blessings. Gratitude opens our eyes to these blessings.

The irony of gratitude campaigns is that they are usually promoted and perpetuated by the same influencers who get paid to accentuate and arouse the very antithesis of gratitude. Jealousy. Desire. Dissatisfaction.

I don’t blame them.

I just don’t trust them.

Because I know how my mind works.

Bait me with your luxurious lifestyle, your high fashion, red-carpet, VIP status.

I’ll consistently bite the bait.

Envy. Greed. Entitlement.

#Grateful?

Not quite.

We live an a world of materialistic exhibitionism and one-upmanship.

If it’s not on Instagram, your vacation never happened.

If it’s not on Facebook, your backstage pass was nonexistent.

It’s tempting to use gratitude campaigns as an excuse to showcase our goods. To tell the world: “Look! My life is also glamorous!”

But that’s not gratitude.

It’s exhibitionism.

It’s showcasing.

It’s brand boosting.

There’s no need to broadcast the blessings.

No need to turn gratitude into a platitude.

And if you can’t help yourself, do us all a favor…

Save it for National Kiss A Ginger Day.