Sunday, April 13

How to be normal - a guide to earning people's approval

1. If you're single, look for a relationship, and profess to people that you do have a deep longing for a soul mate. Without one, you will always be incomplete.

2. Engage in a monogamous, preferably heterosexual relationship. Don't have a LAT relationship, or if you do, at least miss him all the time.

3. Be jealous and possessive. These are perfectly justified, and indeed positive attitudes in a relationship.

4. Want children. Two or three. If you don't feel the urge yet, profess the belief that you definitely will soon. You're not a real woman if you don't want kids.

5. If you live together with your partner, don't share your home with any housemates. Being okay with living with people that are not a) your partner or b) your kids, is for students only.

6. Don't be satisfied with the home you have. You want a more expensive, bigger home, even if you already have too much space to hoard stuff in, and even if you're sure the sky-high mortgage will give you severe financial anxiety for the next 30 years. It's worth it.

7. Have a TV in the living room, and preferably one in the bedroom as well. This really is one of the most important things on this list. It's okay if you're too busy to ever turn it on, or if you prefer to watch films on your laptop...  having no TV is just too weird.

9. If you have no dishwasher; want one, constantly.

10. Use furniture that is actually made for the purpose. E.g., a real bed, not a futon. A real table, not an up-turned crate. You don't want people to think you're a creative soul. Or poor.

11. If you have kids, buy them rooms and rooms full of toys, preferably made from cheap, garishly-colored plastic. Choose these toys such that each toy invites to be played with in only one way - don't leave anything to the imagination. Shop for girl's toys in the girl toy section of your local toy store (think pink!), and shop for boys in the boy's section. Anything else is child abuse.

10. Don't use fruits, fresh or dried, as treats for your kids. Fruits are not treats. Your kids are not rabbits. Don't force your healthy lifestyle on those innocents.

11. Try to work on your career as much as possible and raise kids at the same time. Really, one is not more important than the other (although a career can't be as easily outsourced...)

12. Be someone who "eats less meat than most do" (meaning, not every single day of the week). Being a flexitarian is pushing it.

13. Shop 'consciously' as long as a) it's not more expensive, b) it doesn't cost you more time, and c) your peers don't think caring about things is lame. Really, as long as you avoid any information about where your stuff comes from, you won't know, and therefore, you're technically not responsible.

14. Make a full time job a top priority. It really doesn't matter what you do, whether you like it, or what effect it has on other people. And you don't just want to have a job, but a career, where you can 'grow' and 'develop your professional skills' (i.e. earn more money next year).

15. Buy a car as soon as you can afford it and tell everyone public transport sucks. In comparing the two transport methods, don't count the two hours you and your car spent stuck in traffic every day.

16. Don't have ideals. Ideals are scary.

17. Have an opinion about current affairs, but make them strong, shallow, unsupported by any rational argumentation, and focused on the bad effects the issue will have on your own personal life. Where groups of people are concerned, the most important thing is to categorize and stereotype.

18. Refute claims based on years of scientific research, in-depth experience or logical argumentation by simply saying you know better. If people refute your baseless claims, say that what they're saying is just an opinion. Especially when they're really citing years of scientific research, in-depth experience or logical argumentation. When using this approach in an online discussion, be sure to use enough pejoratives.

19. When people ask you how you are, answer in a two-word affirmative. Adding an example of something trivial but vaguely meaningful you did yesterday is optional but always a good idea. You wouldn't want to ruin a good friend's day by actually telling them how you feel, would you?

20. If someone expresses an interest in what you're doing these days, tell them if you have a full-time job yet, and if you're moving up in it - because that's really all they mean to ask.

21. Talk to people about what you did in the previous week (a good topic is the new stuff you've bought) and whether you have holiday plans yet. After that, turn to gossip, TV-shows and soccer. If you have to talk about the real things that are on your mind, your most heart-felt passions and interests... keep it under 2 minutes. You don't want to force someone to pretend that they care any longer than that - it's rude.

22. Pretend to remember people's birthdays. It doesn't matter if you're just congratulating someone you haven't seen in three years because Facebook told you so, it's the right thing to do. Nothing shows how much you care like knowing at which day of the year they continued life ex-utero.

23. Have respectable hobbies and interests, suited to a grown-up. Don't read fantasy or sci-fi after the age of 15. And for Pete's sake, don't put on a costume. For any reason whatsoever.

24. Follow the fashion appropriate for your socio-economic class, but in a semi-nonchalant manner. Don't be the first to try out new things you've seen in magazines. Rather, play it safe and copy your friends.

25. Spend a lot of money on a gym membership so you can run and ride a bike indoors. It's classier and conveys more status than doing the same thing outdoors, for free.

26. Pets are for serving your own wants and needs, however trifling. Only buy young, cute-looking pets. Don't keep a pet when it turns out you need to spend more time than you thought training them or adjusting them to a new situation. Shelters are great places for getting rid of your pets and so many people will want your pet that surely she won't be killed due to a chronic lack of space. So don't feel bad about that. And certainly don't keep defective pets. It's better to tell yourself euthanizing is more humane, than having your dog running around perfectly happy and mobile in a dog-wheelchair that will actually require you to spend some money on the well-being of a creature you've professed to love and care for (the thought alone...).

27. When you're visiting someone and your host asks you what you'd like to drink, never ask for just water. No matter how sociable, talkative and fun you'll present yourself to be in the next 3 hours, it will never be enough to prove that you actually are good company. Also, show your host you're eating at least some of the snacks. It's impossible to be a sociable person without eating the snacks.

28. Judge someones abilities (and how much respect you should give them) primarily by their outward appearance. Everybody knows that when you want someone to do a job that mainly involves them using their brains, it's better to discriminate based on suits vs. dreadlocks, than on what actually comes out of that person's mouth when they open it.

29. Order from the menu.

30. Don't knit weird hats and wear them.

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