Jennifer Ratner-Rosenhagen in The Yale Review:
As Americans, we find ourselves in a culture that so fetishizes success that it cannot tolerate failure. So it deals with it in one of two ways.
The first is to view failure in individualized and atomized terms, blaming the losers for their losses.
The second, which is equally insidious, is to be so disdainful of failure that it insists that what looks like failure in fact is a mere “stepping-stone to success,” in the philosopher Costica Bradatan’s phrase.
Thus the platitudinous self-help bromides that we find adorned on a framed poster in a bank teller’s cubicle (“Failure is success in progress”) or shouted by a fitness influencer hawking protein powder on TikTok (“There’s no failure that willpower can’t turn into success”).
In a culture that demands overcoming against all odds, even failure has been commodified by the American self-help industrial complex: rebranded not as a devastating and possibly life-altering event but as a blip en route to a chest-thumping achievement, accomplishment, or acquisition.