Here is the Official List Of What People Must Stop Doing Immediately. Friends, colleagues and readers helped me compile this, and it turns out that we are collectively well-versed on precisely those actions that annoy us.
I have the confidence of sincere and deep crankiness as I issue injunctions against the following violations of etiquette, civility and humanity. Were we able to change these few, simple behaviors, perhaps we could indeed change life for the better and, by so doing, make America great again.
▪ Stop saying “great again” when we talk about America. Sure, we need to do better in many areas, but we’re doing well overall, thank you very much.
You, for example, have learned how to read. In addition, you can choose the material you’re reading, you’ve probably eaten within the last day and you’re probably able to sit either inside or outside. You’ve got it better than most of the world. Stop taking things for granted and give thanks for the freedoms other people have gained for you.
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Remember that rights – including the right to be educated and to voice your own opinions – are never given but are always won. They can also be lost. Let’s be proud of our achievements while moving forward and relentlessly accomplishing our collective goals.
▪ Stop texting while gerunding. (I have invented a new word and I like it.) Nobody should be dining, talking, driving, dating, walking, working or doing any other verb that can end with an “-ing” while tapping at a cellphone.
▪ Stop posting bait-and-click ads saying “Sally Field is Gone!” (Substitute Betty White, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren), making us think these women are dead when, in fact, it’s just a miserable website luring us to buy blowfish-based wrinkle cream and saying these great women are “gone from the movie scene.”
▪ Stop saying you can’t imagine “sitting behind a desk all day” or “working in an office” as if having a day job is too soul-crushing for a delicate flower with boundless imaginative gifts such as yourself. Respect those who are employed and save your pity for those who fool themselves into contempt for everybody who gets up and goes to work.
▪ Speaking of desks, sitting won’t kill you. Who, exactly, is providing grants for scientists to study the lethal effects of sitting? Pedometer companies? Sock stores? Being run over while you’re taking a walk; yes, that can kill you. Getting sentenced to “the chair” can kill you. But the worst that can happen from just sitting in a regular one is that your tush falls asleep. Stop panicking.
▪ “We need to stop saying ‘everyone’s a winner,’” instructs Georgia blogger Gianetta Palmer. “Because we know it’s a lie. Sometimes you lose. It happens and the world isn’t going to end because you didn’t win.” Sometimes you’re Hootie; sometimes you’re a Blowfish.
▪ Stop lying, being coy or evading questions about age. If you’re at an age where you’re worrying about telling the people how old you are, you have no time to waste. However, should you feel people are being invasive when they ask, simply say, “I'll tell you my age if you tell me your adjusted gross income.” And smile.
▪ Stop brooding. As the old saying goes, “Don’t look back. You’re not heading that way.”
Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut and a columnist for the Hartford Courant. She can be reached through her www.ginabarreca.com.