Time to Read: Far Too Long
Genre: Rampant Misanthropy
Heart-warming Moral: Not Applicable
Christ, it’s nearly February already.
One of my riskier resolutions for 2016 was to try to be more myself. Now I’ve tried this before and to be honest the reviews were extremely mixed, but it’s struck me that I actually have far too many friends and this might be a way of divesting myself of most, or maybe all, of them.
So to kick it off in First World style, this morning Medium emailed me with links to "articles" they thought I might find interesting (Medium has clearly never met me). One of them started like this:
“The other day a friend called me and asked me how I’m so awesome. And this made me think, yes, as a service to all personkind, I should share my top forty seven life-hacks for awesomeness: game-changing insights into the kind of transformative fabulousness that enables me to have self-published the Amazon almost-bestseller “I’m Awesome, But In A Cool Way”, as well as recording the “Being Earnestly Awesome” podcast twice a week, and additionally finding time to monetize my awesomeness through my site www.Imtotallyawesomeandyoucoudlbetoomaybe.com. And where better to share this wisdom than on Medium, which is fucking full of this shit?”
Okay, I didn’t really read that. But I could have done. And so I thought I’d outline (in a listicle, obviously, because that’s the only way we can exchange information these days) nine things about writing on the Internet that really piss me off.
1. People sitting indoors writing think-pieces about how the holy grail of CREATIVITY requires us to engage with life, look after our health, and most of all spend time outdoors — to be read by people who are sitting indoors and have no intention of going out, ever, unless it’s to buy a soy latte.
2. People churning out listicles detailing the habits of successful entrepreneurs — in which the habits are ones they’ve clearly developed only after being validated by success (and have plenty of cash to finance said habits) or else have simply fabricated in order to sound wise, evolved and serene. So — you spend ten minutes every morning centering in stillness, do you? That sounds nice. Your family must be a fuck sight better-tempered than mine is at seven a.m.
3. And endless humble-brags where people bang on and on about starting, running, and closing start-ups — all of which seem to have been deeply spiritual experiences in which they’ve learned and grown a very great deal. Not just, like, fucked up and lost a ton of other people’s money. Because we never fail. Every resounding failure is a step on the road to success. Not merely a depressing waste of a year or two. That would never do. You can’t build a brand from that.
4. And titles that start with FIVE THINGS I LEARNED FROM… all centred around the concerns of over-privileged westerners living in the Bay Area: and no, of course I don’t want to learn about the deep instinctual wisdom of itinerant pencil-sharpeners in Turkmenistan or the tax strategies of boudin-jugglers in rural Manhattan — I’m an over-privileged westerner living in the Bay Area, and happy that way. But can we at least agree that some subjects have been done to death, and find new ones? I’d love to see writing that encouraged us to consider the thing itself, rather than endlessly re-examining our experience of it. And the sorry truth is you haven’t learned anything, my earnest friend. You’re just recycling a non-event for the sake of a three-minute-read (and when did we start needing to be reassured, before we embarked upon reading, that it wouldn’t take too much of our precious time?) in the hope this will reinforce your personal brand, when in fact your piece will be flicked through with near-total disinterest by someone having a poo.
5. And bollocks to personal brands, too. Trying not to be an asshole all the time is all the personal branding I’m capable of. And there's a lot of work still to do on that, clearly.
6. And for the last ****ing time, there are no apps I HAVE to download, nor brunch venues in Bruges I simply MUST visit, and I don’t give a flying fuck what any of the Kardashians are doing or who they’re temporarily married to or how big their arse is these days, and I never will. And Number 27 in your click-bait parade of Haunted Eggcups, Hotels Made Of Brie, or Celebrities Who’ve Dared to Age And Now Don’t Look As Hot As They Used To will not make me soil myself in astonishment.
7. And software people, stop turning every to-do app into “an innovative platform for teams to communicate in real time”. We already have one of those. It’s sticking your head out of your pod and shouting “Oi, Bob — are you going to write that fucking report, or what?” And stop game-changing things and stop coming up with terms like “scalable authenticity”, because they make me angry and sad. And stop mis-using the word “simplistic” for the love of god or I will come and batter you to death with a pretzel. And stop putting an extra “ic” on the end of the word “minimalist” — can’t you see the irony in making this word longer? For GOD’S SAKE.
8. And stop offering me life-hacks. It’s just a modish word for “tips”, and thus nowhere near as hip as you seem to think. And the “life-hacks” that other creatives, parents or human beings have for making their existence less of a train wreck are either painfully obvious or never work for me. Quite a lot of time and effort in recent years suggests that I am who I am and there isn’t a damned thing I can do about it. I am irredeemable. You probably are too.
9. And while I’m losing friends and not-influencing people...
- Good Folk of Goodreads: you giving your eBook away is not an “event”, so please stop inviting me because all it does is put a little red dot on my app that takes four tedious clicks to get rid of.
- People of Twitter, you’re completely wrong about everything, except where your views exactly coincide with mine.
- People of FaceBook, neither science nor religion is infallible — and greater minds than ours have failed to fathom the eternal mysteries — so shut up and show me more pictures of cats.
- People of LinkedIn, I care about your new book as little as you care about my book: we are like stray dogs baying into an eternal night of indifference.
- People of Instagram… actually, you win. Nobody ever says anything on Instagram unless it’s nice.
- Pinterest is okay, too. It haz pictures of ruins and cabins and art and things and stuff.
- But finally, denizens of Quora: asking strangers how you can become a millionaire by the age of thirty is the act of a stone cold loser; billionaires work unsurprisingly long hours; your $50 logo is very poor indeed; yes, fucking obviously it's worth going to Paris; and meeting Steve Jobs was cool. There, you're done — now go play outside.
But see: now I’m doing it, too — telling people to go outside. What’s that about? Maybe everybody who’s outside is forever telling each other to go inside. Maybe we should all swap places. Or stay where we are. Or both. Or perhaps there truly is no inside or outside, only a vast ineffable here-ness and an eternal never-ending moment of Now — a bit like standing in line for the Starbucks in Safeway on a Sunday morning.
I have no idea what I’m even saying any more. There’s no moral to this piece. I’m full of shit too. My advice is to go find a cosy pub and drink heavily for several days. There, I’ve said it. And while we’re talking about sacks of excrement, stop encouraging Donald Trump. It isn’t funny any more.