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The Resolution Solution: Resolving to Change Others in 2011

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The New Year is just around the bend, and if you’re like everyone else, you’re thinking about what you need to “resolve” to do in 2011. There are undoubtedly plenty of resolutions you’re considering, springing forth from the recesses of your finely tuned memory. Faint shadows of remembered television characters echo empty promises in your head. You can hear them convincing you that going to the gym, going on a diet, or “reading more” are all good ideas. Are they?

Not everyone agrees with traditional resolutions. In fact, there are some people that will ridicule your choice to even resolve to anything at all in the New Year.

They cry out against resolutions as if they were a tyrannical government stealing potatoes from homeless shelters. They will tell you that it’s pointless, that there’s not a single thing that you need to change about yourself, that you shouldn’t feel a need to change yourself, as that it is simply an indicator of your own self-conscious shell of an ego, and that the true meaning of Resolutions (much like Christmas) is to get you to go out and spend money on products or services that are hopefully going to get you to “where you want to be” in life — a capitalist plot to make you feel insecure, and that the only remedy is some good old fashioned shopping. The people who say these things usually smell.

Conversely, not doing anything to improve yourself this New Year is also a complete mistake. You may like the sound of the argument of the Naysayers (that you’re fine the way you are, that people should learn to accept you), but this is what a five-year-old hears from his mother when he or she is self-conscious about the way his or her hair parts.

Be honest with yourself: you need plenty of improvement. You’re out of shape, you drink too much, you haven’t called your family in months, and in general, you’re a cantankerous old curmudgeon who cares much too greatly about increasing your wealth, stepping on your neighbors to lift yourself higher, and having rampant amounts of casual sex with with complete strangers who may or may not be riddled with copious amounts of mild to deadly venereal diseases. You should be ashamed of yourself for what you did in 2010.

Yours truly, however, resides in a camp that (1) does not smell, and (2) believes that neither side of the classic Resolution debate has it completely straight.

The “Resolution Solution,” as I am calling it, is found somewhere in the gloriously gray middle. Let’s meet there, shall we? Moderation has always been my favorite virtue: I use moderation more than anything in the world, perhaps a thousand times a day.

As Benjamin Franklin may have said, “Moderation in [New Year's Resolutions] is of course [the one and absolutely true philosophy to follow]. [Paul Travisano] is also [incredibly handsome] and [does not smell].” (Some slight exclusionary and substituted interpolation may have been utilized in the previous quote– one of my personal New Year’s Resolutions is to be a complete ass.)

The Resolution Solution states: “Instead of resolving to change something about yourself, which would certainly involve wasting both money and time, change other people.” Changing someone else is the hot thing to do in the New Year.

Think about it: If everyone chooses to instead change something that they don’t like in other people, by extension, we would all be changed ourselves. For example, if you think that your co-worker needs to lose a few pounds, all you have to do is take away the candy bar they have hidden in their desk. It takes only seconds, costs you nothing, and sends both a subtle and poignant hint that everyone in the office is sick of looking at them.

Your neighbor listens to music much too loudly at odd hours of the night, so that many nights you can’t fall asleep. This used to be a personal flaw on their part, but with the new Resolution Solution, it has now become your responsibility to see to it that they change their hideously rude ways. Creep into their room when they finally fall asleep, and cut every wire in the house. They won’t know what hit them.

Examples can be thought of ad infinitum. Take the computer away from the Internet addict, smash the television of the guy who watches too much sports, kidnap the alcoholic and send them to rehab, or get your unemployed friend a job at the library without telling them.

Of course, there are going to be people who have a problem with this hip, new philosophy. They’ll say that it’s “invasive.” They’ll call it “twisted.” They may even call certain aspects of it “criminal.” Do not be swayed — these are just “words.”

They will make you question whether or not these tactics are of sound moral judgment. You might hear a little voice inside your head, naming itself Conscience, asking you if it’s really necessary to be so destructive in your endeavors to change other people. The answer (and you can tell your pompous Conscience I said this) is a resounding YES.

How’s that saying about omelets go? “You can’t make an omelet without personally invading and absolutely obliterating the habits of a few eggs that you have problems with?”

That says it all, I think. Best of luck in the New Year.

Paul Travisano works in a café, has a beard, and introduces himself at parties as “an aspiring stereotype.” You can read his entire HV archive right here.

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