How To…Make Resolutions that are Slightly Less Inane
Ah, January – that time of year when we all realise what’s terrible about our lives and attempt to rectify these glaring flaws. I need to stop smoking! I drink too much! I don’t do any exercise!
Anyway, enough random facts about me. Resolutions tend to focus on ourselves. We make changes that we think will improve our lives, for OUR benefit. But what about all those people who have to interact with you?
Did you ever consider making yourself a better person for them to be around? Of course you didn’t, you self-absorbed narcissist. But never fear – Uncle XWHY is here to make you into a better man. So, instead of hitting the gym or attempting the Herculean feat of not drinking on work nights*, try these on for size…
* Editor’s note:…you can do those too, they’re both good ideas.
Most popular things in the world are dreadful. This is not a massive revelation. People have terrible taste.
The soaring success of movies as badly scripted (and acted) as Twilight, music as shallow as Coldplay, and comedy as utterly unfunny as The Big Bang Theory proves the old adage that “you’ll never go broke appealing to the lowest common denominator”.
However, the overwhelming popularity of shite media doesn’t mean that there’s nothing good on offer – you just need to look harder for it. Remember how Breaking Bad never actually aired on any UK channels, yet still became your favourite TV show?
Trust me, there is a hell of a lot of media out there that you haven’t paid any attention to. Push yourself to find more of it. Read books by authors you’ve not tried before. See movies starring actors you’ve never heard of. The point is, if you are content to lap up this year’s carbon copy Call of Duty that practically cut and pasted scenes from a previous instalment, or an Anchorman sequel which made up the other half of its joke quota with shouting instead of writing, then you’re complicit.
You’re rewarding creative laziness, perpetuating it. One person voting with their wallet might not cause a sea change in the rotten state of mainstream media, but if it’s making you sick then don’t swallow it.
I wrote an article a while ago about how female celebrities behave with the expectation that they will be reduced to their constituent body parts. Oh, you haven’t read it? Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Wasn’t that enlightening? Drawing your attention to the fact that this behaviour that we dismiss as crass or exploitative is symptomatic of our own insane preconceptions of female sexuality? Well, thanks. But anyway, what does Rihanna’s Instagram account have to do with New Year’s resolutions? I’m getting round to that. Stop being impatient. Basically, telling straight men to stop looking at sexy ladies would be like telling Buzzfeed to stop posting articles about Disney princesses – no matter hard you want it to, it’s not happening.
And that’s OK – societies where people are expressly forbidden from enjoying what they consider sexy tend to get a bit creepily repressed. The problem is that whatever their reasons, when the world’s most famous women present themselves to be gawped at we quickly lose sight of what ‘normal’ is. In real life there is a clear line between appreciating and perving, and all the media twerkage in the world shouldn’t stop you from knowing where it is.
In theory, social media provides a great channel for connecting with people, but – much like communism – an understandable premise was ruined beyond recognition by the inherently dreadful nature of humanity.
There are people who care about you as a person. They do so without caring about the exercise routine that you nailed this morning. Quite why you’d think such an obviously masturbatory update would be of interest to them is beyond me.
You may well be excited about your upcoming weekend. So might the friends who you’ve tagged in that status. But they know what your plans are already. So really, why did you post that status telling hundreds of other people just how incredible this weekend is going to be? It’s because you’re bragging about how awesome your life is.
The thing is, nobody else gives a fuck. In their eyes, you are not a paragon of partying, a bastion of banter, or another amusing alliteration. You’re an ego-wanker, blowing your load all over their Facebook.
Before you post anything online, ask yourself whether it will provide pleasure, amusement or relevant information to anyone other than yourself. That really ought to be enough of a screening process, but if social media has proven anything, it’s that mankind can plumb to incredible depths of self-deception, so apply one further test. This is very important, so I’m putting it in caps: IS THIS LIKE-BAIT?
You know what this is. It means nothing to anyone except you, but you’re hoping people will be impressed enough to acknowledge it and therefore, by extension, your existence. You really don’t need to be that guy. I wouldn’t hang out with someone who was a boastful prick in real life. Why would you think it’s OK online?
If you broke out in a cold sweat after reading that you need to give people a reason to care about whatever you do online, then this could send you into a panic attack – you actually need to do the same thing in real life.
You’re probably at a point where you’ve managed to separate the ‘real friend’ wheat from the ‘Facebook friend’ chaff, so think about this: why do you actually like your friends? If you answered “because they’re awesome”, then well done – you’re doing friends right.
But now consider this from the inverse – why do your friends like you? What are you bringing to the table? I’m not saying that you suck (unless you didn’t read that article I linked to earlier), but simply existing doesn’t merit the reward of friendship. You have to assert yourself – don’t just passively participate in your circle, become a driving force.
The same goes for relationships – if you don’t take charge and make yourself into someone who’s worth their time, then you’re coasting by on their low expectations and giving them no reason to stick around.
‘Honesty’ and ‘communication’ are two things that most people would list as fundamental to a strong relationship, so it’s ridiculous that plenty of couples still skirt major issues with white lies and obtuseness.
I defy anyone to explain how a direct and frank discussion of your sex life with your significant other could do anything but improve it in the long term. Sure, if you want your girlfriend to dress up as Cthulu you might wanna keep that to yourself, but by and large you’re having a conversation about how to make your favourite shared pastime even more fun.
And if you’re scared of criticism, the single best thing you can do is take it on board – you’re literally being given instructions on how to eliminate your failings.
We could all do with being a little more honest – whether it’s to those around us or to ourselves. If you’re unsatisfied with your job or relationship, chances are you know why but you’re just unwilling to admit it to yourself. We convince ourselves that inactivity is the sensible option as it won’t rock the boat, but ultimately a sharp stab of sorrow is better than pretending your unhappiness isn’t quietly simmering in the background.
Experiencing an extreme, even if it’s a negative emotion, will remind you of what’s been missing from your life.
Seriously, not ever. Sure, we all like looking at pictures of ourselves on social media, but the narcissism was at least partially kept in check by the fact that we hadn’t also taken those pictures of ourselves. The selfie is the ego equivalent of aiming a video camera at the screen it’s feeding onto – perpetual, blinkered and pointless.
WORDS: James Barton