Inspirational messages are hollow statements for lazy blowhards

I was walking home the other day when I saw some graffiti on the sidewalk that said, "inspire someone." If you're the type of person who posts these vapid little notes everywhere, you should have a child, kill it, then kill yourself. Millions of idiots make and read signs like these every day, nodding happily without asking the question:


Why should we inspire someone? Not all inspiration is good (Figure 1). What makes you even think you'd be good at inspiring others? Do you think that just because you want to inspire someone, that you'll automatically be able to? Do you think that the reason people don't inspire each other more often is lack of will? Or that this kernel of thought hadn't occurred to them? As if the act of inspiration was a light switch that we could turn on or off at our whim? And if so, why stop at inspiration? Why don't we just "do" other things, like "BE SUCCESSFUL" or "BE HAPPY." Why stop there, asshole? Why don't we just "BE RICH," or "BE HEALTHY." You idiots are all theory, no application.

Don't be poor, bitch. Be rich!

There are people who practice public speaking and communication for years to become effective enough to "inspire" others. How would you even know what inspiration looked like to another person? Are there any metrics you could measure to determine the rate of success or failure? Would you even know when it occurred? And how are you controlling for variables that could factor into someone's inspiration, such as the possibility that books, objects, animals, world events, or other people inspired them instead of—or in addition to—you?

Inspiration happens every day—unintentionally. It's like having an epiphany: if you could simply have one every time you wanted a new idea or some clarity, why wouldn't you have them all the time, dumbass?

Yet here you idiots are, parroting hollow mantras and patting yourself on the back for thinking you're doing good in this world, when all you're doing is annoying everyone around you. What could inspire one person might dishearten another. For example, one artist might be inspired by seeing the work of masters, whereas another might come to the realization that he or she will never be as good, and give up (which in itself is inspiration, just not the "good" kind implied by inspirational zealots). Not all things inspire all people, not all inspiration is good and there's no reason you should be expected to know how to tinker with someone's ambition.

There are enough things we aren't good at. In fact, most people aren't truly great at anything because they don't apply themselves. The last thing you need to do is make some half-assed effort at trying to inspire someone. Even if you somehow knew how to inspire someone, there's no guarantee that you'd be able to because how you express yourself might not be what the other person needs to see or hear. In other words, shut the hell up and mind your own business. Worry about your own inspiration before you tackle the monumental challenge of inspiring someone else. Odds are you can't.

There's an article titled "8 Ways to Inspire Others" I found on a website called "Marc and Angel Hack Life" (which I won't link to because it's stupid). The first rule states:

Stick With What You Love

Inspiring others isn't easy. The success rate of those who attempt to inspire is incredibly low ...

Huge motivational seminars with thousands of attendees typically make a real lasting impact in only a few people's lives.

Notice the vapid filler-language like "incredibly low." How low? Incredibly! Wow, thanks for the pep talk, Professor Dickmouth. The piece alludes to "success rates" without citing any studies, sources or variables. Then as if to affirm the futility of these "rules," this advice train gets derailed and lands deep in the heart of Dumbassylvania:

If, however, you do love something dearly, you won't care how successful you are at inspiring others...

So let me get this straight: now your goal of inspiring others doesn't matter anymore? Which is it? Isn't that the whole point of this asinine article? The piece bloviates on, "Don't look to inspire one person, look to inspire hundreds!" Sure, I'll get right on that. Don't bother with trying to inspire one or two people, you will fail, according to the article: "you will likely not succeed with working to inspire at a very small level. You need to think big and have many people available to inspire."

Notice anything missing from this advice? Like reason? Evidence? Explanation? Why do we need to "think big" and have many people available to inspire? Is there a reason to believe our success rate with inspiring people on a smaller scale would be low, other than some authoritative fallacy being rammed down our throats? Just look at this mind-numbing bullshit:

Don't settle on making minor changes in a person's life if they need a total makeover. Instead, aim to change everything.

So we're not only tasked with the responsibility of inspiring someone, but now we have to evaluate the totality of a person, then, at our sole discretion, make the judgment call to:


Imagine someone coming into your life, telling you that everything is wrong about you, then attempting a "total makeover" to change every aspect of your life. The implication is that every decision you've ever made leading you to this point in your life has been wrong. How inspiring.

Therapists go to school for years to become qualified to advise, listen to and understand people. Now we're all expected to just magic ourselves into being qualified therapists. Why? Because some article posted on some random asshole's website told you so. And nevermind what he said just a few paragraphs earlier about inspiring "hundreds," now you're back to inspiring one. This sloppy article is all over the place.

The constant deluge of feel-good inspirational bullshit permeates every facet of our lives on social networks, and has now crossed over into the real world. People make cute little notes and hang them up everywhere like goal-posts for their empty lives. But the problem is: none of it works. If these quotes actually made a difference, people wouldn't need to keep posting them. And it's usually the same handful of people who do it. Their lives aren't any better, happier or more fruitful than ours. Just more full of self-affirming, socially guilting bullshit.

There's an unspoken rule with every inspirational tome, and it's that everything positive is good, and everything negative is bad. Take for example the following piece:

Source unknown.

Although the message states, "you can be everything," it only lists qualities that the artist considers positive. It's a heavy-handed way of guiding people into a particular ideology while shunning any traits that don't fit his or her narrow world-view. Just because you can "be everything" (not true, by the way), doesn't mean you should be everything. Someone could accept the message, but interpret it entirely differently. Here's one such interpretation I made:

When these messages aren't obnoxiously saccharine, they're myopic, self-serving and just plain old bottom-shelf bullshit. These inspirational blowhards post their messages ritualistically, without any thought or care in the world other than gratifying their egos. Sometimes these messages are so out of touch and irrelevant that they'll appear abjectly offensive in any context outside of their cozy social network. Here are a few examples:

Image: unknown. Quote: John Cage

Cool, tell that to this guy about to watch his house burn down:

David Mcnew/Getty

Hey kid, don't let your joy get stolen by comparison. You have two whole cucumbers. What more do you want?


Here you go:

Associated Press

Source unknown.

I'm feeling happier already:

Mikhail Evstafiev

Source unknown.

You have enough.


You know what? It looks like you just need some "me" time to get your mind off that pesky fire and the bothersome prospect of your children drowning:

Tim Holmes/AP

Source unknown.

What you do today is important because you are exchanging a day of your life for it. Boy are you going to feel sheepish when you think back about what you accomplished in your life, and it turns out all you did was starve:

Amy Wilson Arts

This looks like the start of a good decision. Who knows? Try it.

KPA/Zuma/Rex Features

It's my sincere hope that a few of you sanctimonious blowhards will realize what insufferable assholes you are, and that you'll stop posting these "inspirational" messages everywhere. They're shitty, obnoxious and irrelevant to most people. In the mean time, here's a free inspirational message from me to you: eat shit. It's free and good for the environment.

Note: Some of these images are from unknown sources because the earliest found versions of them are uncredited.

443,223 people read my rant that was inspired by an inspirational message.

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