I usually write about technology for nerds. But after waking up this morning and seeing Allure fishing for a story to explain why January is the busiest month for cosmetic treatments, I just can’t help but respond with a bit of beef about journalism, health, technology, and the human condition.
January is a busy month for self improvement (okay and attempted self-improvement) across the board. It always has been, and I don’t need some plastic surgeon to speculate about the human condition to understand that in the month of new, people set goals to lose weight, save money, find love, and quit smoking. I also need no physician to tell me these goals drive gym membership sales, searchers for Botox treatments, activity on dating apps, etc.
This is what humans do when we have a goal and a short-lived artificial sense of motivation and urgency. Some physician selling Botox, and little nip tucks, adds the same value to discourse as my little thoughts. Doctors and anthropologists have already studied why people feel pressured to set goals in the new year.
We, as people, need goals to dictate actions and actions to dictate outcomes. If you have the goal of getting in better shape, that isn’t a goal; it’s a wish. Saying “I want to build 4 lbs of muscle, and lose 10 lbs of fat” is a goal. With an actual goal, you can begin to plan a diet and exercise schedule that will help you reach your goal.
Supplement sales and cosmetic surgeries go up because of course, they do. People feel pressure to reach a dream. In the little town of Southlake, TX, I can see a 400-500% increase in ads spend on cosmetic surgery terms on Google Search. But I could pick any small town with an average wealth above the national average – The results would be the same.
Why then is a news outlet covering this evident and expected trend? Because journalism is terrible. People will click and read the article, and they will feel normal. Several PR people who have been beating up the phone lines of Allure writers will stop calling the poor journo and show clients (plastic surgeons) results.
If you want to get Botox, that is fine. If you want to read more books, that is fine. But no matter what the goals (or dreams) understand that you need to do them, because you want to. Even something as simple as going to the gym or an outpatient facelift is more likely to fail when you’re doing it because of artificial pressure.