The problem isn’t the idea of aspiration itself, or of dedication and perseverance, or of inspirational quotes. The problem isn’t the belief that relentlessly pursuing one’s dreams can lead to success, though it should be approached with the recognition that it takes a lot of good fortune and the right opportunities, and the empathy to understand that those who never have those breaks should not be figures of contempt or object lessons in failure. The problem isn’t even the idea that people of unshakable will can change the world, though this should be tempered with the recognition of a moral context: the unshakable will of Gandhi to change the world had a very different endgame than the equally unshakable will of Hitler to change the world. The problem is that none of these are being presented honestly. They are, instead, being presented in the form of marketing, in the form of advertising. They are not personal messages of achievement and inspiration; they are commercials. They are meant only to sell you something, whether it’s trinkets for a particular charity, or treatment at a particular hospital, or the idea that you should give up on such quaint notions as job security and benefits in our bold new digital economy. Whatever they’re specifically selling, they are commercials, and commercials are never to be trusted, especially when the message delivered is one of contempt for the ordinary man, the average citizen, the person who could be you if you weren’t so unique and special.