4 Signs You’ve Reached Peak Hipster

When it comes to beverages,I like to keep things simple. I drink my beer from a glass, and my coffee from a cup.

So when it emerged last week that a Melbourne café was selling a “deconstructed flat white” – that is – a coffee served in its constituent parts, on a wooden board – it spurred me into action.

You see, we can’t keep our heads in the sand anymore. We can’t keep ignoring the evidence that says hipsters are real, and that they are happening now. Even the BBC, normally a bastion of restraint and common sense, suggested that this could be our end of days.

It’s time to take up arms against this terrible pandemic. If you exhibit any of these symptoms, please contact your health professional immediately.

1. Overruse of the Word Awesome

That date you just had? Awesome. That burrito you just choked down? Awesome. That weather? Totally freaking awesome.

There are literally* dozens of words in the English language that you could have used instead.  Do yourself a favour – search for synonyms to the word ‘awesome’ and open yourself up to whole new galaxy of linguistic possibility.

*note correct use of the word ‘literally’.

2. Crusading against gluten

No, I don’t want any of your gluten, dairy, sugar and joy-free banana bread. I don’t like my snacks with a side of sanctimony.

Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s great that you’ve embarked on this health drive, and I’m happy for you. But spare me the lecture on gluten and it’s terrible effect on climate change, cold fusion and the war on terror. Its getting hard to stomach.

3. You’re clued up on Scandi-drama.

British and American shows give you a Wallander-esque scowl. You know exactly who Sidse Babett Knudsen is, and quietly squealed with delight when Pilou Asbaek was cast in Game of Thrones. You can’t help it – you’re a sucker for windswept vistas, grey clouds and stories darker than a Viking’s beard. Speaking of the latter…

4. You have uncontrollable facial hair

If I called you a pogonophile, you’d be forgiven for thinking I’d accused you of something quite unsavoury. Fear not, though as this simply means you’re an admirer of facial hair, one of the millions who love the sight of a hairy monstrosity on aface.

Beards are great when you’re trekking through an Alaskan wilderness or gathering firewood. They’re less appropriate, however, when you’re hanging around in Urban Outfitters telling everybody how much better music sounds on Vinyl than CD.  It’s time we gave the beard back to the alpha males and woodsmen where it belongs, and devoted ourselves to the quest of keeping our opened avocados fresh in the refrigerator.

Hopefully you now know about these danger signs, and have the tools to stop them when they make an appearance. You never know, it may just be enough to save your friends from becoming insufferable bores, and save thousands of social gatherings in the process.

6 Things Introverts Wish You Wouldn’t Say

Being an introvert means that you accept certain truths. You understand that you’ll probably earn less.  You guess that you’re more likely to be overlooked for promotions, or be judged negatively by those who don’t take the time to get to know you.  That’s just the way our Western world works.

Still, it hasn’t stopped a mini- backlash in some quarters – some people are sick  of hearing about how downtrodden all  us poor introverts are.  The success of authors like Susan Cain has thrust the discussion into the mainstream spotlight, and has helped employers and educators look again at how they can best cater for their more deferential employees and students.  While this is welcome, there will always be those who think we should stop complaining and just get on with things; that mountains are being made of mole hills, that there isn’t really a problem at all.

Of course,  these are the very same people who say the types of phrases I’ve listed below.  Phrases that introverts like me hear on an almost daily basis, ones that would send me into a screaming fit if I didn’t think it’d make a scene.  While I’d never be  arrogant enough to speak for an entire group of people, here’s a short list of statements that I guarantee will result in at least some introverts  gving you their best blank face.

Are You Okay?

I’d like to take this opportunity to reassure everybody that I am, in fact, OK. At the very minute I become not OK, I will deign to let that fact be known. I know I look like a bulldog swallowing a hornet, but don’t fret – underneath the grumpy exterior I’m happily distracted by my own thoughts. 

I don’t want to seem unkind – it’s nice when people ask how you are. I appreciate that they care enough to wonder how I’m feeling. But when you’re asked every five minutes, it begins to grate.

Cheer Up!

How about you cheer down? You can’t be that chipper all the time. The only people who can be that happy are clowns,and I think we can all agree that they are creepy as hell. 

Tell me a little bit about yourself.

This one is usually uttered in a work setting, on some vague team building exercise or – worse – an interview.  It immediately fills me with dread – where do I start? From birth? What I had for lunch? How much is a little? I need time to prepare an anecdote!

We’re having a [insert event]. Would you like to come?

Again, don’t get me wrong – just because I’m an introvert doesn’t mean that I don’t like being invited to things.  Nobody likes not being on the guestlist, right?

It just so happens that this is juxtaposed with my instinctual aversion to going places and doing things. I really do enjoy people’s company – as long as I don’t have to enjoy it for more than an hour before returning to the sweet castle I call home.

Relax!

I am relaxed! Well, at least I was relaxed, before you said I wasn’t and made me think I’m giving off vibes of being uptight. Now I’m irritable.

You’re not much of a people person, are you?

This one irks me quite a bit. Being skilled at small talk does not a people person make. Actually listening to people, engaging them in thoughtful conversation – that is manna from heaven for an introvert like myself.

So, while I can empathise with our more extroverted companions who feel like they’re being drowned out in all the pro-introvert psycho babble, please bear with us. We’ve been waiting our turn to speak, and we have a few things we’d like to say.

Why I’m Glad I’m Not A Woman

Being male affords me certain privileges.

I don’t have to give birth, or suffer the mind-shredding agony of a period (these descriptions were more than enough to convey the horror of that particular experience).

But there are a few other reasons I’m glad I’m an Adam and not an Eve. Here’s just a handful.

1. I get a fair wage.

I am compensated well for the work I do. I don’t know how it feels to arbitrarily earn 14% less than my counterparts.  I’ll have a higher pension,  because statistics suggest I’ll be in a better paid job where I’m able to save more than females can.  Sounds fair, right?

2. I can go for a walk at night without fear.

When I leave the house by myself, I don’t feel vulnerable. I’ve never had to buy a rape alarm, or feel uneasy hearing footsteps behind me. If I get raped, I won’t be accused of ‘inviting’ it or somehow being at fault because of what I’m wearing.

3. I have control over my own body.

I can do what I want with this fleshy blob I call home. Admittedly, all I do is eat candy and drink beer, but I don’t have to explain or defend my health choices to anyone, nor be bullied or criminalised for them.

4. I don’t have to work as hard.

I’m a white guy in a white guy’s system. That means I don’t have to work harder than the opposite sex to get ahead or even be recognised as an equal. I have an automatic head start that is completely undeserved.

5. I don’t have to choose between work and kids.

I’ve never once been asked how I’ll juggle my job and my family. I’ve never had to explain why I prefer one over the other, and I’ve never been made to feel guilty for prioritising what I want over what people expect.

6. I won’t be written off as I get older.

I know that society won’t judge me on my looks as I age. I don’t have to put up with the narrative in today’s world that says getting older means I’ll be less desirable. Nor am I expected to put on makeup every morning, or do my hair up, or wear high heels. If I don’t have kids or a wife by 35, I know society won’t see me as defective goods.

7. I can be confident without being seen as ‘shrill’.

I know I can be assertive in a meeting without being called a bitch, or domineering. If I were single, I could have many sexual partners and be labelled a ‘player’,  not a  ‘slut’. I can excel in my career without insinuations that I’ve achieved by means foul rather than fair.

So there you have it. Even in the 21st Century, it pays (literally) to be a man. But just because it pays doesn’t mean we should buy it.

Here’s How Much You’re Actually Worth

We all love sizing people up. It’s human nature. Whenever we’re introduced to strangers, we make snap decisions according to our first impressions.

Whether they’re attractive.

Whether they seem like a decent person. 

How much they earn.

image

For most Brits, simply asking someone how much they’re worth is considered grossly impolite. It’s like asking your dad what his  favourite sexual position is, or admitting you like Coldplay. You just don’t do it, no matter how many times you sang Yellow to yourself as a teenager (ahem). 

Thankfully, most people are kind enough to drop several clanging hints about their relative wealth or successful careers. They’re the ones who post on social media about flying to a meeting for work. They’re the ones Snapchatting you a photo of their ‘cheeky cocktail’ from a beach in Tenerife. They’re the ones wearing clothes with labels big enough to silently scream about how loaded they are.

Its a worrying trend, and I will be the first to admit to it – i’ve felt the warm guttural glow of knowing I earned more than somebody, and the damp,grey irritation of knowing that I earn less than another. I’ve ‘checked in’ to places when I know full well that anybody reading it will either get jealous or think I’m an arse.

In 1933, Danish author Aksel Sandemose wrote about the ‘Law of Jante’. It was a satirisation of the attitude in his native country towards those who view themselves as ‘aspirational’, and the various ways that Danes had, historically, has eschewed individual boasting in public.

Sometimes I think we Brits could take a leaf out of Sandemose’s book, as self-worth is increasingly being tied to the careers we choose and the money we earn. A study in 2013, for example, found that nearly 17% of unemployed Americans were depressed, compared to almost 6% of those who had a permanent job. For an insight into the anxieties faced by the millennial generation and the oppressive influence of financial insecurity, check out this article.

We need to stop placing so much value on what a person earns, and putting more on what they do. Don’t get me wrong – being ambitious is not a fault, and achievements should always be celebrated. But when a person uses their success to judge you negatively, it becomes a problem.

We need to stop thinking that somebody is worth admiring if they’re filthy rich but stabbed everybody in the back along the way. We need to consign the expression ‘Nice Guys Finish Last’ to the dustbin of history, by realising that being a decent person is not a sign of weakness but a positive and desirable trait.

If you want to know what you’re really worth, here’s a tip; It doesn’t have anything to do with your bank account.

It’s about how many times you’ve been there for your friends. Its how many times you’ve been kind to a stranger. It’s every time you did something unselfish, or told your partner you loved them, or treated someone with respect.

So the next time someone boasts about themselves, remember that they can have all the money in the world, but they can never  buy their way out of being an asshole.

An Ode to The Guy Who Never ‘Gets The Girl’

I’ve never been a ‘lad’.  Going to clubs and ‘chatting up birds’ (shiver) is something that has never appealed to me.

When I went to a club at the weekend, my mates would be ravenous about meeting somebody. Our teenage and college brains rarely thought about anything else.

My excuse was always that the music was too loud to have a proper conversation, or that I couldn’t ‘get to know’ anybody in a pressure cooker where everybody was off their faces.

At the end of every night, there’d be a  group of us who hadnt met this ultimate goal. We’d huddle together and hug in the middle of the dancefloor,forming a kind of impromptu support group as we belted out Oasis’ Wonderwall, whilst our other mates did a slow dance with a girl they’d met earlier.

In truth, the reality was that I’d never been confident when it came to the opposite sex. It all started when, aged about 5, I was walking home from school when a couple of them stole my schoolbag and threw it on top of a high railing. Being the mini Jason Statham that I was, I cried until they took pity on me and gave it back.

In later school, my route home meant that I would always walk past buses full of girls from the local comprehensive. There’s nothing more emasculating than a hundred girls rapping the windows calling you an ugly ginger.

Back to the point though.This article is for those of you who, like me, only had your leftover kebab to show for for your Saturday night. This is for the guys who would sit patiently while their friend tried to charm their way into a dance. Its for those of you who feel like you’re always picked last when it comes to the game of love.

You just need to hang in there. It may not seem like it now, but things will get better.

I know that right now, every trip to the local Wetherspoon’s is like Dante’s seventh circle of hell. It seems like every night out is a rejection of you, a statement that you’re not good enough, or attractive enough, to meet someone.

I get it because I was there. Ive walked that lonely road.  And I still think Wetherspoon’s is an abomination.

Now, I have a beautiful, funny and smart girlfriend who means the world to me. We met whilst working at the same part time job, and I used that age-old pulling technique of, y’know, talking to her like a real person with interests, to convince her to eventually go out with me. We’ve been together for five years and never been happier.

If I can do it, you can. Just be yourself and be patient. And above all, avoid idiots like those you’ll find in the ‘Seduction Community’ (yes, it’s a real thing. No, I couldn’t believe it either) who promise you instant ‘success’ with women if you follow their advice. There’s a special place in hell for those morons.

Love is just like everything in life. You stumble in the dark until you bump into something great, and then it’s up to you to hold on to it. So just keep on stumbling. I promise you’ll get there.

From The Invincibles to The Invisibles: Why Wenger Must Go Sooner Rather Than Later

12 years ago this week, Thierry Henry inspired Arsenal to a comeback League win against Liverpool at Highbury. It was a crucial 4-2 victory, one that energised a team humbled by successive defeats in the FA Cup and Champions League to United and Chelsea the week before.

Henry’s second goal, a pulsating run and finish after beating 3 Liverpool players, is one of the Premier League’s most iconic moments. It symbolised the Invincibles in their footballing pomp – vivid, virile, and ruthless. It was a muscular response to those who claimed that the North Londoners didn’t have the bottle to win the big games,with Gérard Houllier likening Arsenal’s second half performance to that of a “wounded animal”.

On Saturday though, Arsenal demonstrated just how far they’ve fallen under Arsène Wenger since then. 

Andy Carroll, who has always been closer to Eeyore than Seabiscuit, tore through the brittle Gunners defence like a wild stallion through a paddock. A late equaliser from Koscielny wasn’t enough to spur a late surge from Arsenal to win the game, whose title hopes are now all but extinguished in this, their best shot at the league crown  for a decade.

It was, arguably, the worst performance of a season that has been chock full of neurotic showings,such as the opening day defeat to the Hammers or the 4-0 gift to Southampton over Christmas. Whilst they played some effective football in the first half at the weekend, their efforts were undermined by a criminal and chronic  lack of focus and determination.

For many Gooners, the worst part of  Saturday’s performance was its’ sheer predictability, its utter ‘Arsenal’-ness.  It llustrated weaknesses that have been obvious to even the most casual observers and fans for years.

Wenger’s insistence on an overly  cavalier attack is matched by a seemingly wilful abandon of tactical preparation, whilst the lack of a vocal, visible leader on the pitch continues to be brutally exposed. Unlike their Invincible predecessors, this team still melts under pressure. When the going gets tough, Arsenal don’t get going at all.

Even the most ardent Wenger fans must now be beginning to admit that the winds of change grow more insistent around Islington.

What has Wenger done to address the team’s apparent weaknesses? Gabriel, after a promising start, has put in a string of spluttering displays, whilst Olivier Giroud’s meagre tally of 12 goals will never be enough to sustain a credible League title challenge without help from a world class striker.

A large part of the creative burden has also been placed on Héctor Bellerin’s shoulders. The Catalans’  marauding forward runs have provided rare bright spots throughout the year, but without his pace and Mesut Özil’s assists, you dread to think where Arsenal may have otherwise  been in the League table. Alex Iwobi,  who had a hand in two of the goals on Saturday, also looks a player of huge potential, but Arsenal will remain short without significant investment in defence and attack.

Wenger will not, of course, be sacked in the summer. His status amongst the board and in particular the owner Stan Kroenke is still unimpeachable. From a business point of view, Arsene Wenger as manager continues to make sense. From a sporting perspective however, things are far from rosy. His continuing presence suggests what the club’s hierarchy think is more important.

4 Labels Introverts Always Get Hit With

I really hate parties. After a while I just want to go home, close the blinds and watch a box set on Netflix.

I’m what you might call an ‘Introvert’. It took a while to admit this fact.  For most of my adolescent life I fought against it, trying desperately to ‘come out of my shell’. Being introverted was something to be overcome, a weakness that could be remedied if I followed this authors’ ‘7 easy steps’ or that writers’ ‘5 handy tips’.

In truth, being introverted is something you don’t need to explain or cure. It’s part of who you are, and it has some pretty great benefits.

I’m not going to lie to you though. Sometimes you’ll have to grin and bear it when people label you unfairly for being an Introvert.  Here are just 4 of the ways you’ll be misunderstood;

1. Being Labelled As Boring

If you’re like me, you prefer intelligent conversations about lots of different things. You like  talking to one person, maybe two, but not to the whole room and never at a level where everybody can hear. You might also have a special loathing for small talk.

In some people’s eyes, this will make you boring. You will be judged for not wanting to seek the limelight all the time, and for not broadcasting yourself at a volume that can shatter glass and pierce ear drums.

2. Being Labelled a Snob and / or Arrogant

At some point, your quietness will be confused for being aloof and stand-offish.  People will think that you’re judging them, but in my experience this is just a phase where you’re getting to know strangers and becoming comfortable with their mannerisms. Like any card-carrying introvert, once you know a person well the conversation begins to flow freely.

3. Being Labelled as Less Confident

We’ve all been in a meeting where someone drones on and on. And we’ve all bitten our lip while we pray for it to finish. If only we had the confidence to interrupt and break it off, right?

Wrong.

Too often, being introverted is seen as a proxy for lacking confidence or being timid. Conventional wisdom tells us that, to be confident , you need to be domineering and to enforce your will on those around you.

The reality is that some of the world’s greatest leaders are introverts. Mark Zuckerberg, Barack Obama and Warren Buffett have all admitted as much.  Susan Cain, demigod to introverts everywhere, affirmed that introverted leaders “often deliver better outcomes than extroverted leaders do”. One fascinating study found that introverted managers were rated more highly by staff than their extroverted counterparts after 10 weeks, despite being rated lower initially.

4. Being Labelled as Miserable

If I had a pound for every time I was told to ‘Cheer Up!’ I’d have built a castle far away and filled it with books so I never had to interact with humans again.

Joking aside though, introverts are often unfairly labelled as sad or miserable. Whilst we may tend to be more sensitive generally,  it doesn’t mean that we can’t appreciate the pleasure of good company or social situations. Sometimes life can be just as enjoyable from the back seat as it is from the front.

When it comes down to it though, the world isn’t black and white. We all have a bit of extraversion and introversion in us, and each bring unique benefits to the table. We should all be celebrated, just as long as I don’t have to give the toast.