Barbara Ehrenreich, author of “Nickel and Dimed,” is not by age a GenXer, but her new book, “Bright-Sided: How the relentless promotion of positive thinking has underminded America,” will no doubt strike a chord with many a GenXer. It did for me anyway.
As soon as I saw this book I knew I wanted to read it, because one of my pet peeves is overly-optimistic people. Now, I’m sure that there will be those who brand Ehrenreich (as well as myself) bitter or angry or “negative” as is the popular slander, but that’s not the case. The opposite of “positive,” as it is jammed down our throats today, is not despair and “negativism” it is rational and realistic. Because there is a fine line between being optimistic and being naive, and the people Ehrenreich takes to task employ “postive thinking” facsism to the point of self-delusion. I’m talking people like the creepy ever-grinning Joel Osteen and the Rhonda Byrne, author of “The Secret,” (ALERT! ALETER!: a version of The Secrete for teens is being published).
Ehrenreich traces the roots of “postive thinking” facism back to something called New Thought, which was a reaction to strict Calvinist attitudes of the time, throug Norman Vincent Peele and his PT Manifestor, “The Power of Positive Thinking” who really popularized the movement, up to the current day PT Gurus and iconslike Depok Chopra and Oprah Winfrey (query: why do both of their names sound like a horrible-taste vegeatable?)
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with being optimistic but with out a healty dose of rationality and realism and yes even pessimis it just bullshit it can lead to such things as the recent economic collapse. The cult of PT has so permiated corporate culture that within it those who would dare to point out a problem or suggest that things are anything but peachy keen may suffer ostricization or even firing, which is what happened to the guy that worked for Lehman Brothers who tried to tell the President/Ceo whatever-the-hell his title was that the realeastate market was going to be problem and that they needed to change their business model. Two year after the dude was canned Lehman Brothers went busto and former Pres/Ceo still doesn’t seem to get it.
And why should the jackasses bother to change, to be the competent, rational and thoughtful leaders that once headed up corporations, when the gov’t will bail their asses out when they fail miserably? Hell, I’d walking around smiling all the time too if I knew if that any mistake I made would not only get me canned but might actually earn me a raise. But I’m still no donning that stupid Osteen mullet; I did my time in the 80s fashion hell, thank you very much, and I’ve not intention on returning to it.