I’m a recovering sociopath…. A culture of individualism and white entitlement creates some unbelievable personalities. It's weird to live in a "community" of people who only care about themselves. It doesn’t feel sociopathic when you’re surrounded by other privileged people who agree with you, though. Self-help books can ✨ help✨ people un-drink the Kool Aid and realize selfishness is not actually virtuous.
At the same time, these books tell people to fix their own personal habits because 🪄✨ the only thing stopping you is you✨🪄, which carries the same individualist overtones that got us into this mess. As I write this I’m realizing it’s right there in the name — “self help" — it’s an individualized, market solution for our social problem. We get a quick dopamine hit from reading these books, we’re thrust back into a cruel world that reminds us our problems are much deeper, then we rush to Amazon to order another book for another hit of dopamine. As you say — people like to read self-help to feel validated & to feel like there’s some kind of guaranteed formula for success out there. There’s no formula. We just need to stop glorifying assholes & start being kind to each other. Kindness can move mountains. And I love your distinction between “politeness” and “kindness” — they’re not the same thing. Living in California, everyone is polite but very few are kind