Marketing consultant Mark Schaefer makes a sane point about the Facebook inundation we receive of varations on the old saw, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all."
"Over and over we are pounded with rainbow bombs until you begin to believe that if you are not dreaming your way to a better life then there must be something wrong with you," began a post last week at Schaefer's blog "Grow." (The blog tells readers how to "Grow. Grow your company, reputation, customers, impact, profits. Grow yourself.")
He goes on to tell us about his grandfather, a good plumber, solid provider, happy and humorous man who "never traveled more than 200 miles away from his home …. If you asked my grandfather about his latest 'daring adventure' I think you would get a blank stare."
But Schaefer didn't follow his grandfather into the plumbing business, did he? As we learn from his bio, he studied under Peter Drucker and is "among the most acclaimed and accomplished marketing consultants in America." The author of two best-selling marketing books, Schaefer has been named Forbes magazine's "'Power 50' social media influencers of the world," an AdAge "'Power150' marketing blogger, TweetSmarter 2011 "Twitter User of the Year" and so on.
You don't get to be "Twitter User of the Year" unless you entertain some rainbow bombs of your own. But as he praises people who live drearier lives than his own—quitting their jobs taking care of aging parents, sacrificing their dreams to feed their kids—Schaefer doesn't use a single sentence to acknowledge his own place on the continuum between Frank Sinatra and humble, nameless, honorable wretch.
He criticizes Seth Godin's quote, "How dare you settle for less when the world has made it so easy for you to be remarkable?" But he lives a version of the life Seth Godin prescribes. And then he has the temerity to toast, "Here's to the real people."
These people are not going viral … and they're not worried about going viral. And yet, that is almost all of us.
Friends, it is honorable to live a life that transcends self-interest.
Today, I celebrate the 'most of us.' Let's have at least one blog post in the world for the humble, the brave, the suffering, the faithful, and the exhausted. Today I celebrate the plumbers of the world who work in the sewers to put bread on the table. That is something to be proud of … even if it's not a work of art.
Right, Schaefer. Except, the single definining characteristic of the salt-of-the-earthers to whom you refer is their utter lack of need for a toast by blog post.
Americans daring one another to dream big is not a Facebook phenomenon. It's an American phenomenon. And it's not new. Think and Grow Rich and How to Win Friends and Influence People came out in the 1930s. If you had to name the single unique aspect of American culture, it wouldn't be that nebulous concept "freedom," it would be that Americans think they can do anything. We have a name for it. It's called The American Dream.
Called that, as George Carlin said, "Because you have to be fuckin' asleep to believe it."
And mostly sold to us by marketers like Mark Schaefer.