“Inspirational” and its derivatives has replaced “passionate” as a CV-staple. “Inspirational” has also become a clickbait-staple. My Twitter feed seems to sag under the burden of just so many “inspirational” and “inspiring” links. “Inspiration”, “inspiring”, “inspirational” – all join “disruptive”, “revolutionary”, “transformational” in the Overused Lexicon.
Recently a video circulated online (OK, “went viral”) of a woman with terminal illness being interviewed by Ryan Tubridy on The Late Late Show. While her own determination to live every moment is entirely admirable, I do wonder if the cult of Inspiration can put pressure on people in this situation (and many others) to Be An Inspiration. Winston Churchill’s battles with the “black dog” of depression are often held up as inspiring – look what he achieved despite his depression! – but this can be demoralising – look what he achieved despite his depression, so why can’t I? Cue guilty spiral…
Currently Sir Bradley Wiggins is facing serious questions about his use of Therapeutic Use Exemptions. Cycling seems a sport that, even more than others, is bound up with a culture of Being Inspirational (perhaps this is because cycling does seem to small-i inspire many adults to take up the bike themselves, in a way watching professional football, for example, doesn’t) . One of the reasons Lance Armstrong got away with his drug cheating was the Inspirational Story he was able to wrap himself in, and a natural reluctance on the part of many to burst an Inspirational bubble.
Much of the discourse online about eHealth can take a similarly Inspirational Above All turn. Perhaps this is another example of how the can-do, market-focused, startup culture of tech conflicts with the more restrained, evidence-focused, small-c conservative world of healthcare.