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No More Entrepreneurial “Struggle Porn” (medium.com/nateliason)
76 points by imartin2k on Oct 21, 2018 | hide | past | favorite | 31 comments

GaryV sucks. He really is the worst. Dude was born on third base but pretends like he grew up homeless. His #1 skill is bullshit LinkedIn-style "inspiration" which inspires people who shouldn't be entrepreneurs to make stupid decisions and negatively impact their lives.

I don't really feel like adding more than that.

> “maybe my difficulty getting traction is a sign that I need to try something else”

This is definitely the highlight of the post for me.

I've seen way too many people pontificate: "things are hard but if you keep pushing then everything will work out" which is exactly as generic and non-helpful as it sounds.

Some pursuits are worth it. Many are not. We have to learn to drop the failed projects early.

"If you don't like the results, change the game" -- or something like that. Heard it in a movie long ago and liked the quote.

Statistically, when people want to give up, is that typically a rational reaction to new information? Or is it typically an irrational reaction to adverse conditions?

Valid remark. Many people have been way too pampered and gave up very easily -- in my (apparently very negative) bubble. So building resistance to plain adversity (which might be so plain as to kill you sometimes, hehe) and recognizing when something is just not working is extremely important.

In the end, there is no universal advice.

I'm not asking it rhetorically, I genuinely don't know the answer. Do agree there is no universal advice.

I really can't tell you. It mostly depends on your environment. Where I live most people are quite badass and strong but were put down by life way too many times so they started quitting earlier than they should. On the other end of the spectrum, I knew quite a lot of people who (as I mentioned above) were pampered and couldn't handle any adversity.

And then you have the people who somehow thrive on the adversity. I couldn't understand them even back when I was full of energy and motivation.

That being said, there are behavioral signs that distinguish people. I believe you should be able to quite easily discern them if you have even basic interaction with them.

It's not just @GaryV, but the culture in workplaces everywhere in our country. People take a lot of pride in staying up all night to finish presentations, working 80-110 hour weeks etc. So if you're a person not doing this, you'll be labeled unambitious, lazy, somebody who likes to chill etc.

Its an unfortunate symptom of whats its like to work in tech today. As an Engineer, twitter makes me feel guilty for not blogging, tweeting, attending meetups, learn new techniques after I clock out from my day job. Are people really working that hard?

A lot of people around me pretend they are working hard. They either stick around at work till late (taking 6 hours to do the thing that should've taken 3), keep replying to emails from clients/bosses/"ambitious" coworkers no matter the time, and schedule pointless meetings and phone calls. It's all about optics. These people are also the ones who constantly complain about work and how stressful it is.

I really don't think "struggle porn" is the best term to use, since there is actually such a thing as "struggle porn" that is in the category of consensual, kinky, BDSM porn... The kink.com people made porn of people tied up and tickled, etc.

So? I can't see anyone reading this article being confused because they assume it's about actual porn.

This would go farther and be less click-bait if it was titled "entrepreneurial struggle porn"

Testing to see what walls can move is part of the hard work. I think most people miss that fact that they have to experience less frictional paths to find success.

I changed the title following your suggestion.

Looks like the discussion has been derailed and the thread buried. You might want to take the word struggle out just for the sake of avoiding this again. For what it’s worth I think you make a valid point, frankly people need to know when to quit and what’s a healthy level of investment.

My main issue with it is that since struggling to succeed has become a desirable thing, everyone inserts it in their backstory.

Plenty of people that I know have not really struggled at all, yet when you ask them how they did it, there's always a nod to the struggling meme.

It's particularly annoying if you know someone who's made their money in a shady way, because then not only are they hiding the real way they did it, they are also pretending to have persevered by the rules.

There's a few ways this humblebrag comes about:

- One guy had all the pieces of a business ready, owned very similar profitable businesses in other countries, had invested most of his wealth before moving abroad. So he leads with "I came here with no money to my name".

- Another guy was blatantly doing illegal things on the side of another business in the same field. So of course it's not like he's starving while waiting for the business to pick up, and for the lawyers to set up some things for him. But the story is again "we had such a hard time until things picked up".

Struggle porn is a very uncomfortable term to use, perhaps you can think of something that doesn't invoke thoughts of rape? (Sincere comment, I'm not trying to shame the author).

Related terms: "Inspiration porn" and "disability porn." (There are also lots of SFW "porn" categories on Reddit, usually shiny pictures of some subject. Landscape porn. Woodworking porn. Etc.)

I'm disabled and spent nearly 6 years homeless. I follow some other folks on twitter who have a chronic illness or are homeless advocates or similar.

It is a legitimate complaint about how some subjects get treated. You get articles about, for example, someone helping a person in a wheelchair in the face of an unnavigable environment. It winds up being all kinds of "Awwww. They are sooo nice!" when the disabled community feels like "You are a bunch of assholes. If the environment complied with laws requiring it to be accessible, we wouldn't need your goddamned help. We could do it our damn selves."

I've had lots of firsthand experience with people finding me all inspiring for my attitude or whatever the fuck in the face of adversity while not doing a goddamned thing to actually help me solve my goddamned (financial) problems. I'm sometimes rather cranky about that. So I have a lot of sympathy for people complaining that you are just getting off on my suffering by reading my story and this is not a healthy thing.

(Disclaimer: I have yet to read the article. But the comment is on the title, so I don't think that's really a necessity per se to engage the comment.)

Something like "gratuitous struggle" or "struggle glorification" would be better -- a bit less emotionally charged, but it still gets the point across.

How about “hardship porn”? Seems as punchy but less likely to be misinterpreted.

Have to be honest, I thought that's what the essay was going to be about, too...

In my mind "porn" is the perfect word. I don't think it's inherently linked to rape. It's more that it's an unrealistic caricature of something, meant to excite the consumer in the basest way.

"struggle porn" specifically is a category of porn simulating rape. The problem isn't the word "porn", but rather both of the words used together when the pair already means something particular and broadly upsetting.

Ah, I didn't know that. I have to get out of the house more.

Same here. In general it's not a great development that the word porn is starting to become somewhat of a synonym for gratuitous.

When did porn become synonymous with rape?

I didn't even know that "struggle porn" was a particular type of actual porn simulating rape and I had no problem with the inference that the word pair invokes rapey imagery on the face of it.

"struggle porn" specifically is a category of porn simulating rape. The problem isn't the word "porn", but rather both of the words used together when the pair already means something particular and broadly upsetting.

Actually, Gary is very real. A lot of people are trying to be entrepreneurs where they shouldn't. they overthink, trying to be the next facebook, when they just need to make a few thousand to pay their rent.

I've been watching a lot of his stuff lately - my bullshit detector is pretty sensitive. He's not full of bullshit. He's got a LOT of great advice and ideas. Maybe his "ego" is a turn-off for some, but he's doing a lot more good than harm.

You don't get anywhere by talking smack on others, and this post is little more than a bitch that Gary is successful, has a large and engaged audience, and has a message that resonates with people. All things I'm sure the author would LOVE to have.

What worthwhile thing has the author said or done that runs counter to what Gary is about?

I would use the simple term "martyrdom".

Christian martyrs made suffering the goal, because there was a reward for this suffering after life.

With startups doing whatever nobody has done before is going to involve suffering. No doubt about this, just study the lives of Eintein or Newton, Steve Jobs or Elon Musk and you see constant fighting and suffering.

In fact, if for creating value you must clearly suffer, odds are that less competence to do it than in areas that people identify with pleasure like singing, dancing, fishing or playing footbal. This lack of competence can make your life happier than most people in the middle and long term.

But it is easy to confuse the part with the whole and believe that just because we are suffering, we are creating something of value.

I have mixed feelings about this post. My background is as a "gifted and talented" student and I did some pro bono professional work for an organization working in that area called The TAG Project. I did so while homeschooling my twice exceptional kids.

So, I have a lot of expertise in such things. And one of the things you see with really bright or talented people is they often don't have the patience and similar character traits of the average person. If it doesn't come easily, they throw in the towel. They tend to not think "Maybe I need to try harder or work at this."

I tutored math when I was a member of Mu Alpha Theta in 11th grade. One of my students was a 10th grader who was mentally slow who somehow managed to get into algebra. This person worked harder for their Cs and Ds than I ever worked for As and Bs. And she never got all mad and frustrated like the "smart" kids did when they couldn't understand something.

As an adult, someone I was tutoring in math actually threw their pencil across the room after I told them to put in a number to resolve the algebraic equation, use 10 because it's easy to work with and found that I was right and they were wrong. I told them "Yeah, I'm not the reason you are frustrated. You can behave or find another tutor."

So I think there are people in the world who legitimately need to hear that some things involve struggle. Not everything will come easily.

Having said that, he's right that fetishising it is a bad thing and this is a poor metric. When I struggle, I don't use the struggle per se as a metric. I always am measuring it by something else and concluding it is worth continuing in spite of how miserable I am.

I began making money online while very ill and homeless. I absolutely couldn't work a regular job. Making money at all was a kind of success. "Just go get a full time job" was simply not a viable option.

So I continued to work at it, though I didn't make much. Over time, my income gradually improved.

I'm still struggling to make ends meet. I still have to sit down and spell out the metrics that actually matter and that make this seemingly failed path actually make sense. This is largely rooted in "I have an incurable medical condition. I am getting well when the entire world says that simply cannot be done. (and I am routinely called crazy for talking about that at all)" So I am looking at vastly improved health and moderately, painfully slowly improving finances.

But the medical stuff is supposed to cost millions over the course of my life. If I am simply not running up millions in health care costs, I'm doing a helluva lot better than I am supposed to be doing in all metrics, never mind what a shitty life I have.

There can be reasons people are pursuing something entrepreneurial that they aren't spelling out. Maybe they don't think they need to talk about those elements. Or maybe they know the rest of the world won't understand and will give them a hard time about it, so they keep it to themselves.

The vast majority of what is going on in a person's life is not their business. If they think it is, then they have good health, energy and lots of other personal assets they are taking for granted. Some folks are working at moving other issues out of their way. This can take years to sort out. Taking years isn't necessarily evidence they aren't doing all in their power and making things happen as fast as possible.

So while I agree that you shouldn't be using struggle as a metric to prove you are successful, I think there are some things the author is missing that have real value here.

Also, bullshit metrics like "I'm working so hard" as bragging points for social situations are generally a lot safer than talking about something substantive, like just how much money you are really making. That can make you vulnerable to predation, it can make your supposed friends hate you, etc. Complaint-brags are often the best way to make small talk and not alienate your acquaintances.

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