Thursday, January 21, 2010

Rules Nobody Can Live By #2

Rule: Don’t Boast

If whining tops the list of verboten behaviors in the cool-person code of ethics, bragging has definitely got to be second in line. Nobody wants to listen to some asshole say how great he is or how great she is (many assholes are shes, of course), and there’s nothing that ruins a fine afternoon more thoroughly than standing in line at the grocery store behind two 25-year-old NASCAR fans bragging about how expertly they service the ladies in their lives, which of course begs the question how the hell could dicks like that have ladies in their lives? Let us not ponder the answer.

It’s a fact, in any case, that when anybody announces to a group of people that they’re great at something, they in fact aren’t great at that something or they need attention because their mothers didn’t give them enough with they were little (attention, that is). It’s also a fact that the humble, self-effacing, aw-shucks type of person is the person we all like best.

I must mention Facebook. I enjoy it, I guess, especially the keeping-up-with-old-friends aspect, but then again, because I’m a writer, I seem to have a number of writer Facebook friends, most of whom asked me to be friends because they are trying to be Facebook friends with as many writers as possible, because if you’re a writer on Facebook, your objective must be to network, to be connected, to be recognized, to be revered, and consequently you can either sell pre-existing published books to a hungry Facebook reading audience or you can make connections with other writers who can help you get something published or maybe, if things work out perfectly, the other Facebook writers might invite you to give a reading of your work at a university or a fancy summer writing conference. The writers with this mindset, with the Facebook-as-tool-to-get-ahead-and-get-some-head modus operandi, will almost constantly find a way to promote themselves in their status updates.

Let’s invent a phony male writer to illustrate. Call him Dick Head. Here are few of his recent status updates:

Dick Head is printing out his new novel.

Dick Head just got two flash fictions accepted at the Bearded Clam Bake Quarterly.

Dick Head spent five hours rewriting a short story this morning, and he thinks he nailed it this time.

Dick Head has won the Northern Northwest North Dakota Council for the Arts Grand Prize for Small Fiction.

Dick Head has figured out how to blow himself and write a magazine article and a screenplay and a novel at the same time.

Obviously, whenever Dick posts these things, his thousand-plus friends will click the Like button, and Dick’s life will be validated for at least a few more hours, and he will be one self-actualized Dick.

I’m coming down hard on Dick [Ed. Note: Holy Shit!] and I shouldn’t. See, Dick is responding to the basic human need to feel appreciated, to feel like he’s not wasting his life, and if the son of a bitch has won the Grand Prize for Small Fiction, what’s the harm in him telling the world about it? Probably nothing.

You know what’s funny? I spend countless hours of my life in a not-good-tasting stew over this stuff. I have to let it go one of these years. So hey, if you want to brag about your accomplishments great and small, what the hell: go ahead. But maybe consider not doing it in line at the grocery store.


  1. funny shit. keep it up. lottsa truth in this here blog, i dare say.

  2. Wow, Dick Head can blow himself?! Can you photoshop that?

  3. I enjoyed reading this. totally made me laugh but true too good job!


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