Friends, S03E02, The One Where No One’s Ready…
Monica’s not ready because she made a boo-boo in the love department. In an attempt at damage control, she left a “breezy” message explaining herself to the Ex. Remember Richard, the sexy dude with the mustache?
She then triumphantly told the Friends all was taken care of, and to prove she wasn’t neurotic, she played the message back. All Friends looked at her like she was batshit. Guys take note because apparently, a mustache will make a girl a little nutty. It was Joey who delivered the blow, “you can’t say your breezy. That negates the breezy.”
That pretty much sums up how I feel about vulnerability these days. If you have to say you’re being vulnerable, you’re not really being vulnerable—you’re being disingenuous.
That might sound harsh. And it certainly doesn’t apply to all, but hear me out.
As Cole Schafer so eloquently puts it;
It’s a convenient vulnerability. It’s being vulnerable in hopes to better one’s position in the public eye. It’s conditional vulnerability.
Mark Manson and Brené Brown were two of the forerunners advocating for us to embrace our vulnerabilities. They shun a light on a major problem: our guards and all we suppress to protect our image.
It was as if a weight had been lifted, permitting us not to be perfect. Instead of hiding our flaws, we could embrace them. And in doing so, create deeper, more meaningful relationships. Wonderful.
Fast forward several years and vulnerability has become more than a movement. It’s a cultural phenomenon within the personal development sphere and business in general.
When it’s pure, it’s beautiful. But as a commodity, it stinks. And in the world of business and personal development, it’s treated as a commodity more and more every day.
I guess that’s the problem with movements. The assholes always spill in and ruin it for the rest.
Today, we see more and more attempting to exploit the power of vulnerability. They’ve got copper. They want gold. And there is little they won’t say or do to get it.
It’s pretty shit to see such low morals from self-proclaimed experts. The inauthentic preaching authenticity. But it’s the knock-on effect that bothers me. Because now individuals being sold on turning passion into profit are sitting down with their business coach to brainstorm their vulnerabilities and workshop how best to package them in a product for some turf and Internet fame.
Vulnerability is becoming more en vogue than the magazine itself, and the behavior of those pulling out all the stops is becoming more outlandish than orgies on reality TV — different extremes for attention.
It’s also an attack on the vulnerable because it discredits their struggle. We’re not seeing true vulnerability. We’re seeing the lengths many are prepared to go to exploit someone.
It’s not all disingenuous I know, but surely I’m not the only person who thinks it stinks.
True vulnerability should be scary. Not something to brainstorm to see how best to penetrate your market and gain followers and fans alike on social media.
And this is when the trap door opens.
Trap 1: Making an ass of yourself
The more people share their vulnerabilities and get results, the more they will seek them out. The person who’s doing great will start saying stupid shit like;
“Oh My God, I gave a speech at Toastmasters last week and completely shit the bed….. but it was a humorous speech, and it turned out everybody loved it. In fact, they didn’t stop laughing, and I actually won, so I don’t really know the point of me sharing, except that I wanted to be vulnerable. And let you know that it’s ok for you to be vulnerable. Because if I can fuck up and win. So can you. And I’m also amazing. Because I’m being vulnerable.”
That’s not vulnerability. Vulnerability would be if they actually soiled themselves, and everybody laughed and pointed, and said, “get off the stage pants shitter” and then wrote about it. Or something to that effect?
Trap Two: Seeking validation from vulnerability
It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, especially on the Internet. The reality is some people do extremely well sharing their vulnerabilities online. And, of course, they encourage others to do it. But more people fall flat on their faces attempting it due to a saturated market, as well as other factors.
“But you must persevere!”
Now you’ve gotta dig into your bag of tricks to find more vulnerabilities to talk about to engage your audience.
And when you do….crickets. Less than nothing. Nobody cares it seems. And that will leave a sour taste in the most hardened mouths. So you fall deeper and deeper into the trap while crossing the threshold over to self-pity, where things only go from bad to worse.
It’s a deadly game that many get sucked into only to be held hostage there by their ego.
How you conduct yourself is your business. We all have baggage and crap built up over the years. But please oh please, if you’re struggling, do not fall for this trap. The Internet will chew you up and shit all over you. Embrace your vulnerabilities, but do it right.
Maybe we need to focus our energy elsewhere? Maybe we need to triumph over our vulnerabilities instead of clinging to them? And maybe we should stop focussing on sharing our constructed vulnerabilities with the world, and start sharing our true vulnerabilities with the people we love—the ones that matter?
Sharing with the world also can be powerful, cathartic, and inspiring. I want to read about your vulnerabilities. Just not that constructed shit. Not as a commodity. That shit stinks.