Over the past few years, a universe of publications battling for readers and a growing conference industry have encouraged failure porn stories, distributed en masse as one-size-fits-all bromides. Typical of the genre: “Failure is part of the success equation,” as billionaire tech entrepreneur Mark Cuban said recently, and “I am so good at failure, it’s like my specialty,” as real estate broker Barbara Corcoran has said. While these luminaries (and “Shark Tank” castmates) mean no harm, I wonder if they stop to consider whom their failure porn serves beyond themselves. Does Cuban’s catchy quote help my founder friend — now jobless and in thrice-a-week psychiatric therapy — who devoted her 20s to a start-up that went nowhere? Does Corcoran’s help the former Manhattan real estate broker whose failure to break through priced him out of New York entirely?

I’ve been similarly skeptical about FailCon — an annual conference launched in 2009 that unabashedly celebrates start-up failure. Back in 2010, Ade Olonoh, founder of Formspring, a then-high-flying social Q&A site, participated in a FailCon panel absurdly titled “Don’t Fail to Scale.” In a post-panel interview, he offered up the following advice: “Go ahead and fail at scaling because that’s an easier problem to solve than failing at finding the right product.” At the time, Olonoh was one of the most admired up-and-coming entrepreneurs in Silicon Valley…

The investor class is complicit in the rise of failure porn. Since the vast majority of a venture-capital fund’s returns come from one or two big hits, it’s a truism that most companies in any given investor’s portfolio will fail. So there’s a sense in which playing down the trauma of real failure to entrepreneurs can be good for business. Dave McClure once described his early-stage venture-capital firm, 500 Startups, in these terms: “We’re here trying to ‘manufacture fail’ on a regular basis, and we think that’s how you learn. . . . If you’re not willing to take the risk of failing and not experience failure, you’re never going to figure out what the right path is to success.” I greatly admire McClure, but “manufacture fail” is nothing more than a great sound bite.