The space-time continuum vacuum we’re all currently existing in thanks to the virus, made all the more surreal thanks to the Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior–styled bandits attempting to overthrow the federal government on January 6th, has led to a proliferation of professional development courses, particularly of the online variety.
Okay, that’s not fair. They were more like Mongol Hordes than Lord Humungus’s marauders. That’s right! The main bad guy in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior goes by “Lord Humungus.” I’m going to change my LinkedIn name to that.
And I have nothing against Mongol Hordes, take it easy. They’re just one of history’s prominent examples of mass invaders, so it kind of came to mind real quick. Besides, I’ve always wanted to join a horde, they seem so motivated and supportive. And yes, it’s true. I can change my LinkedIn name to anything I want and you can’t stop me. It will probably lead to tons of job offers. Especially after I tell the recruiter I actually played Lord Humungus in Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior. It turns out on the Internet you can tell people anything and they’ll believe you because everyone’s in such a frenetic rush to find facts for their story, avoid Fear of Missing Out, and/or a buy a product they need instantaneously. When it comes to facts, I mean, when was the last time you backed up your online research by looking at an actual book or speaking with an accredited scholar of some kind? Books and scholars are doomed.
Plus if the recruiter demands evidence, I’ll just show them my physique and hockey mask. If you haven’t Googled “Lord Humungus” yet, do it now and you’ll see what I mean. Er, maybe Google Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior…I have a feeling searching for “Lord Humungus” could lead you somewhere you don’t want to go, or possibly to a really disturbing Craigslist ad.
Upon further reflection and an application of baby oil to my chest, it’s slightly possible the apparent propagation of online professional development courses is actually a direct result of my searching for them, rather than being caused by catastrophic world events, but I can’t be sure.
Why I’m searching for online professional development courses is a private matter, in no way related to the idea that I suddenly realized I may be short of perfect. Professionally. And maybe, technically, I need an income, but that depends on your worldview.
Either way, there’s a lot of these courses out there, some created by shady organizations that want my social security number to register, which I gladly provide, others by individual proprietors of sorts. Professional proprietors.
Thus, I smell a hustle. Which I love.
That’s right, I love getting hustled. But not dirty, gritty hustled like on the street, which is basically the equivalent of robbery so there’s lots of adrenaline involved, mostly related to life endangerment. No, no, I prefer nice, safe Internet hustling. It’s a fascinating process.
For example, I signed up for a “free” (I think the marketing term for “free” is the ominous phrase “demand generation”) course about effectively condensing what amounts to a slightly long-range professional goal-setting exercise onto one sheet of paper.
The pitch, er, course began with an overly dramatic before-and-after story involving a gentleman who went from working 60 hours a week without vacation, having massive credit card debt, and owing back taxes to adding $650,000.00 in “revenue” (not sure how), paying off all his debt and taxes, becoming fire chief, and taking his wife on a two-week cruise — all without trafficking in heroin, all within one year.
Then we went through a process where we were supposed to raise our hands if we suffered various ailments or common human conditions encapsulated by catchphrases like “analysis paralysis,” “productivity rollercoaster,” and so on and so forth.
At which point I realized this was exactly like a class I happened to stay awake for in college (they refuse to admit I’m an alumnus, which is fine as I don’t have money for them) where the professor read horoscopes and had us raise our hands if we thought they applied to us and of course we all just raised our hands constantly and she explained the Barnum effect is a psychological phenomenon whereby individuals give high accuracy ratings to descriptions of their personality that supposedly are tailored specifically to them, yet which are in fact vague and somewhat general enough to apply to a wide range of people.
(From “the Barnum effect” onward in the above paragraph is completely and unabashedly plagiarized from Wikipedia; I didn’t have time to do other research or validate the definition.)
Also, one time I fell asleep during Fisheries 101 and as the professor demonstrated shore casting, where you use this huge pole to throw a lure out past the breakers, I woke up right before the lure landed in the seat next to me, which if I’d still been asleep would have likely caused me to jump up and scream like a schoolgirl, much to the amusement of my 700 or so fellow students.
That was a close one. As was this an online professional development course that I frantically exited out of as fast as my sweaty fingers could mash the keyboard before I started typing phrases like “scam,” “run,” and “you’re getting hustled” in the chat waterfall.
Maybe I should have warned everyone. Or perhaps some folks benefit from this stuff regardless of my take on the grift. Hopefully it works for some people. It’s just not for me. Besides, I can always fall back on my acting career.