Amid an often troubled 2017, one unlikely product type has sought to provide, literally, a positive note. Stationery featuring slogans such as ‘dream big’ and ‘smile’ has popped up everywhere. These ‘Motivationery’ products have become a must-have and many retailers, from the high-end Kikki K to everyday supermarkets, are trying to ride this wave. So, why are so many of us looking for a pep talk from a pencil?
Feeding our need for empowerment and positivity
At face value, ‘Motivationery’ is centred on the notion of empowerment. ‘Achieve it, believe it’ mantras abound and every week seems to see a fresh batch of exhortations to ‘be all you can be’. Wildehouse Paper’s monthly subscription boxes include optimistic, self-worth-bolstering postcards, while ‘Goal journals’ take it one step further by offering a structured way to log our aspirations.
This craving for positivity may be viewed as part of a wider trend towards mindfulness and better mental health. The poor psychological state of the nation has been the subject of much media analysis – social media pressures, austerity-blighted lifestyles and debt-ridden youngsters all hitting the headlines. In this climate it’s perhaps understandable that many have sought to strengthen their resilience; Pinterest quote boards, hashtags of #goals and slogan T-shirts all being evidence of this need to assert a Positive Mental Attitude. Stationery simply gives us an easy way to express this desire – some claiming it to be a psychologically proven means of articulating and encouraging positive thinking. The Motivationery ethos is encapsulated perfectly by the ‘Passion Planner’, which describes itself as the ‘24/7 life coach that fits in your backpack’.
Drawing a line before the march of tech
Beyond psychological buttressing, this trend also reflects our craving for authenticity. Mottos such as ‘living in the moment’ and ‘making memories’ hint at an undercurrent of disillusionment about the all-pervading rise of technology. Motivationery notebooks offer a way to organise our lives that technology can’t – spaces for doodling, quotes or creative thinking, plus the tactile pleasures of usership, giving these an authenticity digital can’t wholly replicate.
An Instagram-able hit
This desire to put authenticity ahead of technology is a little ironic given that social media has been the engine room of Motivationery’s success. Today, the most memorable trends are those which are ‘Instagrammable’; with everything from unicorn Frappuccinos and pool inflatables to freakshakes. Motivationery is no exception. We agonise over image filters, craft an empowering comment and post a picture of our beautiful gratitude journal, which of course is strategically placed next to a poised pen and an indulgent coffee. And that is where it all ends for many of us. We never get past page two of our happiness goals, and simply gaze at our slogan pencils wondering if we will ever feel motivated enough to use them.
So no matter how heart-felt the intention, we can’t help but feel that Motivationery will become just another passing fad. The underlying power of social media has helped drive the trend, but in living by this sword it may well die by it. Social media burns through crazes quickly and Motivationery is liable to swiftly become as forgotten as unicorn toast and avocado buns.
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