This article is part of our 2017: A Year In Review series
Most people are other people. Their thoughts are someone else's opinions, their lives a mimicry, their passions a quotation.
— Oscar Wilde (Irish)
Nothing of me is original. I am the combined effort of everyone I've ever known.
— Chuck Palahniuk (American)
Ever since you were about five (or seven, depending on how bright you were), you have had a chance to consciously turn your life around, if you really put your mind to it. Of course, circumstances often weren't at just the right temperature to take the dive in, but that was part of the struggle — the come up. You weren’t born woke. In fact, you were far worse than what you remember of yourself today during those cringe-induced sleepless nights. But, congratulations, you made it.
You made it, mostly because, s**t happened. Shakespeare-esque tragedies, heartbreaks, alcoholism, apologising ATMs, bad food and reality befell upon you. You lived and you learned. But you also made it because there were people looking out for you. God-fearing folks shepherding you towards everyday dopamine triggers, giving you up to the minutes of the latest Netflix shows, Billboard Hot 100s, social media etiquette and righteous vengeance. See, they made you realise that overcoming your personal demons wasn’t enough, you gotta be just the right degree of cool to feel accepted.
Thanks to them, now when you find yourself amidst a social undertaking, you know exactly which joke to laugh at and which one demands you riding away into the sunset on your high horse. You know exactly which TV shows and political controversies you need to be on top of and which ones you can bluff your way around. You know how to be the life of a party, and you know, perhaps most importantly, how to kill it for someone. These skills that you have gathered by systematically eliminating every last flare of your natural instincts are priceless. Not just for your survival but for the smooth running of our metropolitan social order.
But as much as you can be proud of your illustrious accomplishments, there is always, as you might very well have noticed at this stage of your life, this one small problem — other people. Not the ones you love and look up to, but pretty much everyone else. Not all people are like you. Not all of them are enlightened. Not everyone knows the difference between blond and blonde.
Now, it's time for you to give back.
In other words, stepping up your ‘eternal struggle of trying to mould people in your own image because you the best’ game. And why not? Why should anyone be allowed to make you even a wee bit uncomfortable when after years of working hard, grinding, you have made it past the doors of status quo? There is always at least one that can do with some discipline and a heavy dose of track #2 of Good Kid, M.A.A.D City.
Enough with trying to turn your own life around in 2018. If you are reading this, chances are you have already made it to the other side. Things can only go in one direction from here (that would be down, by the way). So come new year, you will put (if you are not already) every last ounce of your energy, throughout 365 days, in turning other people’s life around. Making them feel home and accepted at clubs and office spaces alike.
If my end-of-the-year goodwill spirit hasn’t been able to yet pierce through the cynical shield guarding the logical part of your brain, think of it in these terms — you are doing this for yourself. The more innocents you will baptise, the warmer your every breathing moment will be. Imagine being surrounded by people just like you, who dress like you, walk, talk and act like you. Most importantly, people who absolutely worship you on Instagram.
Now 2018 is here, and it's time for you to roll. To kick things off, you need to ask yourself, what do you want from people this coming year? Is it more attention? Is it a solid impenetrable filter bubble of similar style or ideas to live with? Is it a more congratulatory cult-like social media presence? Or do you want to fundamentally change how they behave around you?
No matter what your darkest, deepest desires are, you can always deploy certain rigorously (even more so in the past decade) tested manoeuvres.
Start with your cell phones. Cell phones are your life and people who keep them in their pockets (not even upside down on the table!) while having a one-on-one dinner with you while making you nervous as you scroll through your Facebook feed need to learn. You don't have time for their frustration or unflinching stares directed at your skull while you tweet out your hourly commentary on how narcissistic millennials are on social media. That won’t work. But thankfully, the solution is simple — you just carry on.
That's right, let them eat cake (or whatever they are eating). Sooner or later, their hands will reach down into their pockets or purses, and out will come the cell phone. You shall be redeemed in that moment because they are doing it too. And soon enough, they will learn. Next time, if there is a next time, they will have a cricket or football match streaming on their phones while you do your own thing. No love will be lost, in fact, it will just be as comfortable as eating alone for everyone.
Now let’s move on to a scenario where you want to have a conversation. As you are flexing your binge-watching stamina and your latest take on that dude’s baseball swinging ability from the last episode of that show in front of a group of a diverse set of colleagues, there is some resistance to the words coming out of your mouth. Not everyone has seen the show or is interested in it, while those who are interested but lack your hard-headed Netflix watching skills are protesting that your sermon is spoiling the shows for them. Let it bother you none. Your conversation, your choice.
The solution is as simple as the first — quarantine their existence. Force them into the tedious task of untangling their headphones. But unlike the first one, this time around you really have to deliver your lesson with utmost efficiency. Give them the spoilers in as much detail as possible. Make sure you rub it in their faces so that the next time you gather along, they will come prepared. They would have made sure to catch up on every last second of every show ever made since their birth. And this is an important lesson for them because if we are being honest here, we all know that the more TV shows one has watched, the higher up the social ladder one is.
Now let's talk about opinions and the eternal truth of only one person being entitled to them, and you know who’s that is. Let’s say you watched a movie. No, you watched a trailer for a movie. You do what you always do — go around the Internet and look for opinions. Once you have singled in on the one which sounds smart enough with just a pinch of that exoticism which you believe others might miss on, you make it your own. Now you turn around and start giving it away like extra work on a weekend to subordinates.
But what is that you hear in response? Is that a hint of another opinion? Are those other humans giving equal weight to a different voice? If it's the case, the following lessons need to be deployed with utmost urgency as any delay can lead to a catastrophic blow to your standing. (Although you can always put on your headphones and pretend like you don't give what many rappers seem to claim never to give one of, but, then again, who are we kidding?) The ancient way to go about it would be to steadily raise your voice. Make sure people don't notice it initially, but then suddenly you have the most dominant vocal folds in the house.
Step two would be to keep at it, just keep talking over the other person as you go along. There is no need to counter any points or even make sense once your voice hits a certain decibel level, just focus on delivering a lesson to the young ones. Soon enough things will start to get tense with one of two possible outcomes.
One — and the more likely one — is that the other voice will die down. Here, unless you are on national television, the lesson is delivered. The others will keep their opinions to themselves and think a gazillion of times before arguing with you. Two, you will get the living daylights knocked out of you. In that case, all you have to do is scream a little more with what is left of you about how the other person cannot argue with civility and resorts to violence.
Win-win, and a lesson of a lifetime delivered.
Note: The above can be expanded to opinions on movies, music, TV shows, politics, activism and ice cream.
The above three are the core foundations on which you will build your unconquerable castle of influence in the coming year. The finer details of how things will unfold might vary but knowing all the above, you will be more or less ready to do some good.
There are also some small, perhaps less dramatic, things you can do to turn other people’s life around. Like, building confidence. Next time you are late for a movie, be confident when you walk into the theatre 15 minutes late. In fact, turn on that good ol' cell phone flashlight to find your seat. This undoubtedly will inspire other people to do the same and once everyone is in on it, you will be spared those cursing under their breath. Or if you are going to a BYOB house party, have what others have bought without any display of guilt. Also, if you don't like that new music that you haven’t already heard a billion of times playing in the house, just go ahead and unplug it. No questions asked. Just do it. Plug in your device and get groovin'.
There will be hundreds, if not thousands of opportunities throughout the year to flaunt your goodwill — the above mentioned and others. Be sure to bring your best game every time and spread the love.
2018 — inspire and be inspired.
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Updated Date: Jan 01, 2018 12:16:06 IST