Man, 2015. Another year down the drain. Another year that everyone famous will be younger than me. Kids getting their driver's licenses this year will have not even been born to experience the terror of Y2K. 2016 will be the 20th anniversary of Tupac's death. All of this will happen while we get older, more disheveled and crushed by the banality of life.
So here's my slightly pedantic list of resolutions to keep 2016 from sucking. They're mostly for me, but they're also for you.
Stop invoking FOMO: I'm fairly certain that social media is just a game where the winner can prove that he or she has a much better life than you. On the whole, my life is pretty rad, but you don't need to know that. You don't need to know that Ryan Bradford was at a concert and you weren't; you don't need to know that Ryan is just so cray cray that he'll post a pseudo-artsy photo from the window seat on an airplane. You don't need to know that Ryan's life is just so fucking insane that he'll get day-drunk at an all-you-can-drink mimosa brunch.
Take more selfies: I used to be a selfie hater. I thought they were the product of the overly vain. Then, I read an article called "Selfie: The revolutionary potential of your face in seven chapters" by Rachel Syme. I was struck by this quote: "Nothing destabilizes power more than an individual that knows his or her own worth, and the campaign against selfies is ultimately a crusade against widespread self-esteem." When everything in our culture is designed to bring me down, make me feel like shit, prove that my opinion is wrong or scare me, I'm no longer going to hesitate to snap a picture of my cute mug.
Not get any fatter: If we're being real, losing weight would be a better goal, but I know me and I know my disposition toward exercise and diet. In the four years since being married—a period of your life when you're supposed to let yourself go and uglify, secure in the knowledge that someone is legally obligated to love you—I've only gained about 20 pounds (okay, maybe 25 pounds [you're welcome, wife]). I'll exercise to maintain this lumpy figure, and if I happen to lose weight: Swish.
Wait at least 48 hours after a tragedy to read a thinkpiece: After terrorists killed 12 employees of the French satirical newspaper Charlie Hebdo in early 2015, there were distinct undercurrents of fear running through the CityBeat offices, as I'm sure were at every publication that prints controversial or countercultural opinions. However, it didn't take long before my social media feed filled with vaguely condemning articles about Charlie Hebdo and its anti-progressive humor. Intellectualist friends seemed to have forgotten that people had lost its lives, opting to discuss the political and historical ramifications of free speech instead. There was even a vague feeling of animosity toward anyone who expressed condolences. In 2016, I want to let my feelings take their course and not be shamed for having an opinion without taking into account the entire historical, cultural and societal context.
Stop eating Hot Pockets: Actually, I made this resolution about six years ago, so this is just more of a positive affirmation. Keep steady, Ryan. One day at a time.
Disengage from the national political circus: One of my friends and I want to create a podcast called "Popular Opinion, Bro," where episodes would be called "CGI is Ruining Movies," "Millennials Are Crazy," and "Aren't You Annoyed by the Kardashians?"
"Oh, so you think that if Trump is elected, he will ruin the country? Popular Opinion, Bro!™"
I get it. Trump's a monster. But efforts focused on local government issues probably have more of a direct impact on our lives. Just remember that this year, in the shadow of the hysterical presidential election, we'll also vote for San Diego mayor—an opportunity to unseat an innocuous, business-minded mayor who wasted $3 million in city and county money trying to keep a loser football team in San Diego.
Not pay more than $6 for a beer at a bar: Shit's getting ridiculous. High-priced craft beers are gentrifying bars.
Cut superhero culture out of my life: I wasn't always a superhero hater. I saw 2002's Spider-Man seven times in the theater. I still consider The Dark Knight one of the best movies of the 2000s. But then I saw Dark Knight Rises a day after James Holmes killed 12 people at a screening and thought, "Man, people died for this?" An illogical thought, yes, but I can't help but see superhero movies as a continuing disregard for humanity: Zack Snyder has already shitified Superman by having him kill people, now he'll give Batman a gun this summer; Bryan Singer, director of this year's X-Men: Apocalypse has been accused multiple times of sexual misconduct with underage boys; and Marvel Studios won't rest until every goddamn character is in their movies. Plus, you can't even express a dissenting opinion without a thousand Internet fanboys fighting to tell you how wrong you are. Sorry boys, I'm out.
Unfollow the Internet shamers: I unfollowed a lot of people who use Twitter and Facebook to shame companies that provided less-than-adequate customer service, and it greatly improved my outlook on life. These are tools that can provoke social change, yet people use them to hold corporations hostage by demanding roomier airline seats and shorter lines. Exceptions: NRA shaming is always welcome, as well as any Congressperson who votes to defund Planned Parenthood.
Ryan is the author of Horror Business. Write to firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @theryanbradford