I can tell by the baffled look on your face (don’t try to pretend it’s not there; I’ve been aware of it ever since you clicked through to this page and started gawking) that we’re going to have to clear the air about a few things before we can get any real work done here. So I’ve committed our first lesson to preemptively working out some of the communication issues that are bound to spring up between the two of us throughout the course of this series.
The first activity on our agenda is a short checklist I’ve prepared for you. Your job is to read through it, and, if you don’t like any of what you read there, tough shit. We can proceed once you’ve come to terms with each element. Really, though, this list is entirely composed of things that any attentive reader would have already figured out about my writing style, so you can also consider this a pop quiz. For each item on the list that you didn’t already notice, you get a point. My recommendation is that you read every sentence in this post one extra time for each point earned in this manner, as such a total lack of reading comprehension implies that you need some extra help drilling information into your thick skull.
1. I will be using profanity heavily.
By this, I mean that I will be fucking swearing all over the place like a goddamn sailor shitting out a particularly rusty anchor. I imagine the sailor is in a great fucking deal of pain, does not really feel like explaining how an entire anchor got lodged up his ass, and is probably not too excited about the prospect of tetanus, either. No, it’s probably not necessary for me to curse, but it’s not necessary for you to live in a house with air-conditioning either, so it seems we both have our vices. Quite frankly, obscene language makes communication more colorful and enjoyable for everybody involved, and if you’re really, truly offended by somebody stringing together four-letter words like fuck, shit, or damn, we wouldn’t get along very well without this blog between us. Let’s not kid one another: I curse, you curse, everybody in the world curses; get the fuck over it.
2. I will be making unfounded comments about your character, mental faculties, physical appearance, and background.
No, I am not insecurely trying to build myself up by knocking others down; my insults are intended to help you bolster your mental defenses against a world that, quite frankly, doesn’t give half a shit about your feelings. Many of my comments will be blatantly insulting and easy to ignore for any well-adjusted individual (the implication here being that you should aspire to ignore such comments, not that I think you are fundamentally well-adjusted), but the best ones will naturally be those that actually strike a nerve with you. If at any point I say something that really, truly pisses you off, great. I want you to take a deep breath, think about why it pisses you off, and then get the hell over yourself. There are much more worthy targets of your scorn than a handful of ill-founded personal attacks, and that’s the real moral of this story (there’ll be plenty more on this topic later). Also it’s fun to come up with colorful insults, regardless of their accuracy, and I’m hardly going to deny myself the innocent joy of being an asshole to complete strangers.
3. I will be pointing out uncomfortable truths constantly.
I know, I know, “nobody likes a know-it-all,” but in all honesty, you need to hear the truth from someone. Your life is full of people telling you lies both large and small, like, “Thanks for that report you sent in, it looks great!” or, “No, honey, that dress doesn’t make you look fat at all.” People at home or at your job might be willing to kiss your ass and pretend your shit smells like roses, but I am not going to pat your head and pretend that your mediocrity is acceptable, because it isn’t. Also, I am not aware of any way to pat heads via text, so there’s that.
In any case, I’m going to be making many points throughout the course of these lessons that cause you to wonder, “Now why didn’t I think of that? It’s so obvious!” The reason, of course, is that I am much cleverer than you, and a lifetime of sloppy thinking has regrettably eliminated your capacity for original thought. You need a clever person like me to force-feed you your revelations, which is why you’re reading this post rather than, say, writing it.
Ready to get on with things? Excellent. Now that that’s out of the way, let’s not beat around the bush. You’re reading this series because you want to be more like me. That’s your entire motivation, summed up in one short sentence. You realize that I know something you don’t know, and you, nosy, insufferable thing that you are, won’t be satisfied until you’ve figured out what it is and made it a part of your own life—a life, I might add, which has been thus far entirely lackluster. Well, I’m not too keen on just handing out the secrets of a happy existence to any random uninitiated schmuck with a third-grade education who happens to key in a malformed Google query, so we’re going to have to get to know one another a bit better before I’m comfortable sharing any more tips with you. Don’t try to get cute by skipping ahead to the next chapter; you’ll only end up confusing yourself.
In that vein, this first chapter of this series will count as your introduction to my particular brand of communication, as well as a lesson in improving your own communication skills. Let’s face it, your life—at least up until you discovered this blog—has been governed by a series of increasingly unsatisfying interactions with other people. What is it that drains the sense of fulfillment from these interactions; what is it that sucks the point and purpose from each and every conversation, like some sort of communicative parasite?
It’s you. Not the you that is reading this right now, but the you that fears rejection, the you that wants to be accepted and liked by everyone. You see, you’ve spent your entire life making compromises in the way you communicate. It starts off with the little things, maybe tossing in a white lie here and there to avoid hurting the feelings of a close friend. You move on to lying about entire relationships, pretending that you’re the best of friends with a co-worker or colleague to their face, then talking shit about them behind their back the minute they’re gone. You construct entire worlds around the fantastic (and, you believe incorrectly, completely innocuous) lies you tell, eventually reaching a point where the person you say you are and the person you really are inside are completely separate individuals.
Sure, you and not-quite-you share quite a lot in common. But there’s enough distance between the two of you after decades of elaborate lies and half-truths that neither of you would ever be mistaken for the other, should a friend or acquaintance spot you walking down the street. Oh, that’s right; half-truths are also lies in their most basic sense, though perhaps worse—they’re the lies you tell to yourself, the things you’re willing to admit to in order to pretend that the bigger and more pressing issues simply don’t exist. Half-truths are the price you pay to silence your soul, covering its figurative mouth with one hand as you figuratively stab it mercilessly with the other. As it figuratively dies, figuratively sinking to your kitchen floor, where a growing pool of figurative blood surrounds it, you figuratively cast your eyes down upon it one final time, and the malice there is figuratively palpable.
Yet, you can’t really be blamed for this (well, you can, but I’ll be generous here and pretend). Our society is one built around deception, both of the self and of others. We were raised to filter our thoughts. Your parents scolded you once when you commented on a morbidly obese lady waddling around the local grocery store, your eyes wide with innocence as you stammered out, “Gosh, that lady is fat!” Or maybe you said “Gee willikers,” or something equally endearing; the point here has nothing to do with exactly what was said, but we can agree that you were a hell of a lot more likeable as a child than you are now. While colorful yet archaic phrases may have played a minor role in your charm, the most important trait was your honesty. Your parents unwittingly murdered a part of your natural charisma that day, their misguided attempts at maintaining social propriety quashing an essential instinct, and setting you on the spiraling path to self-destruction that you have been following ever since.
Now I need you to ask yourself: for each lie that you tell to protect somebody else’s feelings, what is it that you gain? Do you experience a self-righteous feeling of accomplishment? What is it that you feel you have accomplished, then? I hardly want to live in a world where the only possible existence is one founded on self-deception and sustained by the lies of others. You need to understand something: each little white lie you tell flies off into the horizon, moving with both speed and purpose. Just beyond that skyline, a quivering, congealed mass of falsehood grows, sinking its many rancid tentacles into the earth. Your lie is swallowed whole, lost in the gaping maw of this black beast, and the creature grows a little more. The world has become a darker place because of you.
Naturally, you’ll forgive me for waxing dramatic here; the only nefarious monster spawned by your dishonesty is a figurative one, and it’s never truly too late to turn things around. For every keen, inquisitive mind (I’m trying to be inspirational here, so you’ll also need to forgive my gross exaggerations) reading this series, there’s an Excalibur waiting to be forged and grasped by the hilt. I’ll set you on the right road—hell, I’ll even hand you a map—but you need to be the one to walk it to the end and vanquish the beast of your own construction.