Opinion: Self-help books are mocking the country

Haley Schmidt, Opinion Columnist

Proclaimed “self-help” books are not helping anyone but an author’s bank account. The craze in self-improvement has caused the nation to fall victim to manipulation through pretty book covers and an ego boost.

As a society who values self-interest above most everything, believing that a book with encouraging statements and steps to magically becoming rich, happy and successful will make any sort of real difference is comforting. Unfortunately, these categorized self-help books are nothing more than the imagined success of a first-time author with no life.

Purchasing a self-help book is a complete waste of money and valuable time; anyone with actual life experience would encourage society to steer clear. Never spend a dime on any type of book that is supposed to instruct the reader on how to solve a broad spectrum of life dilemmas with that certain authors fix-all solutions.

The term self-help has infinite meanings, because it has become a go-to for solving any issue imaginable. However, these books that seem to be trying to help society achieve their best selves are in many cases having inverse effects on the readers. The readers become immersed in a sea of advice, suggestions, routines and hacks they never truly apply to their lives, making it purely a form of entertainment. A commodity that is not only in high demand from women but to the surprise of many, for men as well.

College students are enduring a period of life that brings an overwhelming amount of self-reflection and doubt. The rise of this temporary stress outlet is an easy way of feeling comforted in times of confusion. In 2015, Forbes reported that 75% of millennials said they would be making personal improvement commitments. The modern world is never satisfied, so if there is a book advertising all the answers to a better lifestyle than, it is the ultimate attraction.

Reading self-help books does not enhance qualities like self-discipline, emotional stability and self-esteem. In fact, reading these books that are meant to aid everyday life events are not actually doing anything at all. Active readers searching for guidance in empty words are really just supporting the writing career of someone who is pitching the masses’ views that are commonly unsupported by fact.

American non-fiction author, Steve Salerno, wrote an entire book on the self-help movement and how the concept is manipulating millions of people. In his book, How the Self-Help Movement Made America Helpless, he states compares the genre to snake-oil salesmen, pitching regimens that have never been validated. He conducted real research and found that these books are basically cash grabs and fail-safes for writers who only sell because there continues to be an audience.

A concept many fail to acknowledge when strolling the isles at the bookstore for these books that seem to be flying off the shelves. The entire genre, a misnomer in itself that makes very little sense, is laughing at readers knowing the irony of the books being known to be ineffective.

Stop wasting money and time on an industry whose goal is for the target audience to remain miserable and in a constant state of dissatisfaction. Self-help books are hurting millions of people more than they will ever understand.

-Haley Schmidt is an English senior 

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