How to (Pretend) to be a Human.

I just read through, well attempted to read through – an entire list of things that make up what it means to be the ‘Modern Man’.

Well it should go without saying that it made me violently sick…after all, lists of that kind can only ever be restrictive and judgmental…sort of like; “this is the way you should do things and if you do anything else then you are a massive knob head who no one could possibly ever love.” That’s all I hear anyway – there’s just something off about it, something not quite right. I don’t get why people believe there is a fixed way to behave; what a drearily dull place it would be if we were all just dragging ourselves around humming the same tune and exchanging pleasantries until one day we are in the ground.

Which is why I am creating my own set of principles in which we can all live by as semi-functioning humans…I know, I know – there’s a glaring hypocrisy in all of this, but think of it like religion: mine is completely 100% correct, and all others are a steaming pile of shit. Hmm…did I just compare myself to Jesus? Well, perhaps. That’s for you to decide, although I don’t have a beard which may be a drawback…every good messiah needs a beard. Dammit. Fell at the first hurdle…urgh – but still yes, listen to what I have to say (please). 

ANYWAY. So,  every good human needs to keep a few things in mind as they go about their business otherwise he/she will likely be burned at the stake or cast out into the wilderness and banished from the office kingdom. Thankfully I have the scoop on what these criteria are, so you have no reason to worry. The chances of the aforementioned happening to you are now a lot slimmer*…you’re welcome. 

1.) Every human needs to be able to pretend to be a “Good Loser” – (whatever that is…)

Good Job GIF

Remember that life is about loss – we lose our child-like fascination, we lose our hope, we lose our hair, and then we lose our marbles…so you sure as hell better get used to losing. Consequently mastering sentences such as “Oh that’s great.”, “I’m so happy for you.”, or “You are absolutely amazing!” when you lose, or someone else achieves something, is vital for your survival…bonus points are awarded if you do it without a sarcastic tone or aggressive bestial snarl…advanced humans will also master the art of refraining from puncturing the winner’s tires, or throwing a brick through their window (although it is understood this is rather difficult to avoid at times). 

2.) Every human needs to pretend to only have community-approved obsessions:

Weirdo GIF

For some unknown reason some obsessions are deemed okay, and others are thought of as psychopathic…and often verge on the criminal side of things. For example if you announce you are “obsessed” with Game of Thrones, or with collecting fridge magnets – you may be thought of as pretty typical, or at worst quirky. However if you were to cheerfully let people know that you like catching, skinning and disemboweling vermin around your city, and occasionally attempt botched  Frankenstien-esque experiments on them…you are suddenly branded as a “weirdo”. It’s a strange world, and one I don’t particularly understand – but sadly that’s reality: some obsessions are okay, and some aren’t. You can check if your obsession is regarded as peculiar by practicing on strangers in the street…just walk up and let them know – if they run away as soon as you start talking, then it’s probably best to keep that one to yourself.

3.) Every human should pretend the internet is a bad thing:

Hate Computers GIF

This is one that baffles researchers everywhere but again appears to be a trend that cannot be shaken…despite the clear evidence that the internet is absolutely fantastic, most humans enjoy divulging the conclusion that they hate Facebook, or that they are sick of Twitter, or that Wikipedia is awful…usually this is told across some form of social media which only creates even more confusion. So even though you likely spend a tremendous deal of time watching great YouTube videos, or you learn something new everyday thanks to Google, or you never have to leave the house to buy stuff because of a whole host of online stores…it is best that you claim everything to the contrary. The most typical lines are; “I hate Instagram – why do I want to see people’s food? I don’t care if they starve or not.”, “I absolutely hate getting music for free, why can’t we just pay for the album which only has one good song on, like the good old days?!” and my personal favourite – “if it wasn’t for the internet, I would have written 400 best selling novels by now!” 

4.) Every human should pretend they never ever see difference, because no one is different:

Copy GIF

Yes we look different, yes we live in different places, yes we have been brought up in different cultures, yes we speak different languages, and yes we are blatantly different…but listen to me clearly; we are not different. Say it with me…“WE ARE NOT DIFFERENT.” Well done, great job – now say it with a more confident tone, you don’t sound like you believe it.

And you must, it is paramount to every human remaining in good favor. To suggest otherwise is to face the firing squad. Even if you embrace difference as a clear positive thing, in which we can all come together as a global community and learn from one another – you are still considered to be an enormous prick who doesn’t deserve friends. You are boxing people in, and it’s rude to put people in boxes (it’s cramped and there is poor lighting). 

5.) Every human should pretend their current job was always their dream job:

Ken GIF

Do you remember when you were a lot younger and you dreamed of the adult days which would be whiled away without rules, and limitations…where every day would be filled with aspirations waiting to be met, and ambitions waiting to be embraced…where you would spend the morning eating your weight in bacon, but still looking amazing, and then spend the afternoon rapping your latest hot single to thousands of adoring fans…possibly in the evening you may fit in a stand up show if you can be bothered to drag yourself away from your hot tub…yeah? Sounds great, right!?

WELL NO IT DOES NOT – THAT WAS A TRICK QUESTION, IT SOUNDS DREADFUL.

What you actually find as you grow from a smaller more positive human to a larger and more miserable version of a human, is that all of that was an illusion and you didn’t ever want it in the first place; and that coincidentally what you really wanted was to take calls from angry old ladies, get screamed at by a moron boss, and spend every morning weeping. So please at least pretend to tow the line…keep it on the low if you are doing anything that brings colour to your life, and certainly don’t openly wish for something more…apart from winning the lottery, people are allowed to do that apparently…

Done GIF

So there you have it, you are looking more like a regular human already! I can sense the dissatisfaction in your attitude, the redness in your eyes, and the look of desperation in your furrowed brow! Great job! Go forth and repress yourself!

*you could still be burned at the stake, sent out in exile, or find yourself friend-less – Storytime with John offers no guarantees. 

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Travel Tips!

Okay, finally got down to this one! I’m certainly no expert, and don’t really claim to be – but I feel like I can at least impart some advice I’ve picked up along the way! I will say this; they are (mostly) all just common sense – but that doesn’t mean they aren’t worth saying! 

Hope they help!

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Simple Tips for Novel Planning (Video Request)

I’m currently working on a new novel…rather excited about it actually – I promise I’m going to come through with this one (motivation through “wooooo, you can do it!” calls would be greatly appreciated!) so it is rather bizarre that I got a wee video request asking for tips on planning out novels…

If you have any advice for myself or other writers then remember – sharing is caring! Would love to hear what has worked, and what hasn’t worked for you! 

Oh, and if you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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What is a Quarter-Life Crisis?

There’s much talk of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ nowadays…which seems to have toppled talk of ‘The Mid-Life Crisis’; a phrase I remember hearing a lot more of as a child in the 90s, on occasions when grown ups were behaving strangely and actually having fun – and when people who should know better were seemingly refusing to “act their age”. For instance if a man traded in his people carrier for a sports car he was essentially bordering on a nervous break down, or if a woman divorced a horrid specimen after many unhappy years she was considered an unstable wreck, or if a quiet balding office worker married his pet goat and began a passionate love affair he was somehow “weird”…well no more. That sort of rhetoric has been well and truly left behind and in its place a “you only live once” motto plaque has been welded down for the foreseeable future.

Yolo GIF

Loathe that phrase…but I can’t deny it’s cultural implications.

I am sure like most people you are happy to see such a positive switch; after all the true crisis is that we will all be in the ground soon enough (sorry for reminding you)…so why not dye your hair, get a tattoo, or go skydiving? What the hell does it really matter in the scheme of things? It’s just a way to get more out of life’s short flickering flame after all…not so much as a denouncement of adulthood, but rather as an opposition to a life of repetitive boredom…which unfortunately appears to be synonymous with that old bland chestnut which is “growing up”…

You see in my eyes therein lies the problem, and subsequently where the rise of ‘The Quarter Life Crisis’ is rooted…it’s a clash between the old and the new, the free and the hideously boring monotony, the ice cream for breakfast and the olives on your pizza. It’s a trade off between the old ideals of childhood and the established (but thankfully changing) fundamental stipulations of what it is to be an adult. Because of these clashes it is only natural to freak out and scream “I DON’T WANT THIS!”, when the realization sets in that being a grown up isn’t just bouncing around spending money, doing things, and eating carbohydrates for every meal…although for some that is pretty much it. Not naming names. But…erm…yeah.

Lazy GIF

Not me mind you…not even once – oh no…

But this sort of inward nervousness isn’t a new concept, and most certainly isn’t true of only the present batch of disenchanted twenty-somethings. Far from it. One of my favourite authors Bret Easton Ellis has spoken extensively on the subject, stating it was the ammunition for a lot of his early work…here are a few of his alarmingly relatable words in an interview a few years back:

“A lot of it had to do with my frustration with having to become an adult and what it meant to be an adult male in American society. I didn’t want to be one, because all it was about was status. Consumerist success was really the embodiment of what it meant to be a cool guy—money, trophy girlfriends, nice clothes, and cool cars. It all seemed extremely shallow to me. Yet at the same time you have an urge to conform. You want to be part of the group. You don’t want to be shunned.”

And that’s what it is, this battle…this struggle…this inner-wrestling of two completely opposing worlds. Which side wins however – is largely up to you. As negative as this whole ‘Quarter-Life Crisis’ can be, I think it is helpful in molding yourself a platform on which you can continue to develop and prosper. It’s about reevaluating who you are, and where you want to go. It’s about saying which things you feel comfortable with dropping, and which things you will never let go of (such as watching Spongebob, or enjoying every side of the Marvel world) – this is your life, and you should never have to change when you don’t want to. Don’t be guilt-tripped into losing your identity just because you’re being falsely labelled as a “man-child”“kidult”, or whatever other dumb phrase the jealous masses will spew out…

After all a life of freedom, mobility, and sugary snacks is surely the dream…and you very well may be living it…so if so; keep on truckin’ – OH, LOOK OUT! IT’S BEHIND YOU!

Responsibility GIF

YOU’LL NEVER CATCH ME AAAALLLLIIIIVE!

Get out there and live your life, don’t worry about what other people say and what other people expect from you. However it’s certain a vague plan can’t hurt; it will provide clarity and purpose to the route you are taking towards your future, and will somewhat diminish those “what the hell am I doing with my life?!” feelings. Even if it’s as simple as: “attempt to make world’s largest cheese sandwich” at least you are remaining true to your character, and with it aiming to fulfill your deepest dreams and ambitions. That’s what it is all about after all.

Good luck, and kindly please stop freaking out: Cheers!

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The Age of Wisdumb

I’ve noticed something lately, and I can’t seem to get away from it wherever I turn…it’s on every corner, on every page, on every video, and on every programme…I suppose it’s always been there to some extent – it’s just that now it seems to be reaching alarmingly high levels…

I’m not sure what set this in motion exactly; perhaps it can be linked to the  climate of dumbed down media, or the rise of questionable facts in the form of the internet (oh hi there Doctor Wikipedia!) – or maybe, just maybe there’s some weird X-Files type stuff going on with the water supply (excuse me while I adjust my tin-foil hat…but let’s not rule anything out) – ahem yeah – but seriously whatever the legitimate reason(s) are, the unfortunate situation still remains the same:

…that I feel like I’m surrounded by people with little to no knowledge about fucking anything, who still feel that they have all the answers.  I mean just look around; no one is willing to learn, or should I say…no one is willing to admit their ignorance…and because of this these clueless morons feel they don’t need to be taught as they already have quite enough false wisdom to last for all of eternity…

Dumb and Dumber GIF

And that’s precisely why I have begun referring to this epidemic of prolonged stupidity as ‘The Age of Wisdumb’…gone are the days of the apprentice learning from the master – as in its place we have now replaced that entire archaic story arc with something else…that of the completely unaware but confidently vitriolic humanoid who is always sat in front of his/her computer spouting off hatred and self-assured claims at regular intervals through a variety of different social media platforms…how lovely.

But wait – don’t poor sods like this need guidance then? Instruction from the seasoned masters as they are nothing but empty beginners? Shouldn’t  they seek out the help of someone who has been there and done that, so that they can try and educate and better themselves?

Well no…they don’t have to do any of that silly stuff – as they’ve already watched “like a gajillion YouTube videos”, are rarely not searching something up on Google, and even tune into the news every now and again to keep up on current events…

And it is these reasons, and these reasons alone why many in this cycle have employment positions on Facebook which are legitimately listed as ‘BOSS at GETTIN DAT MONEY’…or something along those lines anyway! Because they’re blatantly all bosses, and they’re blatantly all getting that money.

So anyway, in this world where it is so easy to crown yourself a king, queen, or indeed the aforementioned boss – despite the fact you haven’t done a single thing to  warrant possessing these lofty impressive titles – there is a lot less motivation when it comes to actually working hard, and picking up knowledge through true experience to achieve something real. I mean, why would you do that when there is seemingly an endless supply of easy short cuts?

Short Cut GIF

Think about The Lion King…without his father’s tutelage Simba would have been even more of an arrogant prick than he was as a kid, and would never have grown into the fine figure of a lion that he ended up being in the end. Or what about the Karate Kid, and Mr. Miagi’s “wax on, wax off” training? Or Star Wars, and Yoda?  The Mask of Zorro? Leon?! The list goes on, but they always follow the same perfect formula; young yet enthusiastic characters eagerly  soaking up vital life lessons from seasoned veterans…and despite the initial frustration of having to accept that they basically know nothing; they end up better, stronger, and smarter as a result of listening to their respective “master” figure.

But consider the storylines of those well-known films set in our present culture – they would be very, very different! I mean take Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back just for one of many examples…

Yoda: “A Jedi uses the force for knowledge and defense, never for attack.”

Luke: “Pfft! Fuck you, don’t tell me what to do – I’mma boss! I’m out of here.”

Yoda: “That is why you fail.”

Luke: “Yeah whatever you lil’ scrotum face – never preach to me again!”

Yoda GIF

Sorry Yoda. That wisdumb has people talking recklessly these days…

But what’s the reason for all of this all of this ignorant flexing? Why is it that people seem to feel it demeans them to admit not being anything but an expert? Why do so many consider that asking for help or guidance makes you a weaker individual? It’s simply ridiculous…

Take myself for an example – I used to be shy and unsure of what I’m really about…you know, who I am. But nowadays I can be rather unequivocal in my self-assessment: which is that I am a complete and utter moron. I pretty much know nothing! Actually every day I find out new things, which were actually just the old things I was supposed to learn but didn’t ever get right the first time around…so in essence I know less than nothing – which is actually quite liberating in its own lobotomized way. (If not a smidge patronising and depressing).

But other people don’t appear to share my acceptance of my own lack of functioning brain cells…and this coupled with the fact that we don’t really have heroes anymore (not like we used to anyway) – spells disaster. Or to cut to the point directly, it leaves us with a long line of people who aim for overnight celebrity as opposed to something more lasting and meaningful

Fist Pump GIF

Because why not, right?

(Alright anyway, so suspend disbelief for the next little bit please). You see, I could theoretically make a rap song like the above with a controversial video…and go from a resolute nobody to an overnight success (my rap name would be MC Sukkadick and the song would be called “I Hate Everyone’s Grandma”; just so you know) – and then the established artists would be calling up to collaborate in a desperate attempt to stay relevant with what they see as the fresh new talent just because it’s catchy and people are clicking on it a bit. So when the consumer sees things like this happen then the idea of putting in work, building your craft, taking notes from those before you, and basically having heroes you model yourself after is, well…lost. And in it’s place we have a whole slew of entitled, and impatient characters, eager for instant-gratification despite putting in next to no hustle…

Or simply put we have a burgeoning population of overly-confident but largely non-skilled people who preach their wisdumb across social media – and this really upsets my miniature low-functioning brain and I; it really does. Because what they could be doing is listening to those before them, making plans and sticking to them, working hard and following their deepest ambitions even during the hard times, and eventually taking pride in all they  accomplish.

Rather than say…taking a picture of their butt for the entire world in the hope of a few likes. Or taking a video which humiliates their best friend in the hope it will go viral. It’s like…why?

Urghhhh…just take a look around these days, it’s bleak –  there seems to be a lot less artistry and creativity out there than before, but a whole load more content. Largely because there seems to be a lot less people respecting and taking unofficial lessons from those before them; instead people point and say, “if you can do it I can”…which is true, but isn’t so if you skip all of the years of tutelage, hard graft, and knockbacks. So perhaps it’s time we dropped the wisdumb so many seem to be holding on to, and started to seek out wisdom instead…as it’s only through that in which we can truly grow.

Just ask Luke Skywalker…

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Why Do Men Have to Use Urinals?! (Video Request)

Why is it that it is okay for men to pee in a pot with an audience, but not for ladies? Well, it’s certainly a pretty weird issue…but a one I was glad to delve into (eww)…

What do you think? Don’t be a shy bladder – get involved with the gross debate!

Oh, and if you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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The Facebook Dislike Button

It has been recently announced that Facebook is working on a ‘Dislike’ button – which has sparked celebration from those people who dislike things, but are too lazy to type out an explanation as to why this is so…

One enthusiastic and passive-aggressive man was quoted as saying: “this is indeed a historic day for the internet, I really can’t wait till they introduce it – I hate my neighbour’s child and can’t wait to thumbs down every single photo they post of his annoying little face”.

Smash Computer GIF

However some have criticised the move and believe that the meager range of options in both ‘Like’ and ‘Dislike’ are heavily limited, and don’t allow for a true expression of the human experience. The founding member of UCLA (Union of Communicating Lasting Apathy), David Bottoms, has spoken out in opposition of the decision, believing it to be a backward step:

“Facebook has really underestimated what its market truly needs – what about those of us who simply don’t give a shit about photographs of food, or pictures of dogs with santa hats on? Why are we being so heavily discriminated against? Where is our ‘I don’t give a fucking shit’ button?” 

Annoyed Computer GIF

It is quite simply anyone’s guess how this whole situation will go…will the general public choose to restrict their thumbs down practices to natural disasters, and pictures of failed cooking attempts? Or will they stray into more risky waters and ‘dislike’ their best friend’s wedding photographs as they are jealous and worry they may end up dying alone with cats (who no one has liked through Facebook). 

Well, no one can be sure…so we best just stay tuned I guess…I’m sure we’ll find out soon enough…

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The Rocking Chair Theory

Sometimes you see something and it sparks a whole chain of thought almost immediately…often it’s in things you don’t expect, and from places you wouldn’t have guessed – but despite this it feels central to your life in some way…as if it has always been a part of you, even if you hadn’t realized it before. I mean…if it wasn’t, why would you suddenly feel so strongly about it?

Safe Life

Anyway, that’s how I felt today when I stumbled across this photograph and caption on the Humans of New York Facebook page…

And no, settle down…it wasn’t because I saw the bit about STDs. It was just because I realized that despite also being quite a cautious person I am forever attempting to push myself free from those “hmmm, maybe I shouldn’t” shackles so that I can hopefully live a life well lived, rather than a one full of safe regret instead…

Mind I’m not calling this fella a square because he hasn’t ever had a battle with chlamydia…there’s every cause for congratulations in that respect – however it did sadden me that his words have such a final tone to them…even though I imagine his life is far from over…I mean, there’s still plenty of time for him to volunteer in Africa, develop a drinking problem, become addicted to crystal meth, and/or blow his  life savings on cocaine fueled hookers. So why the negativity? Stop wasting time, and get on with it! 

Seriously though…people often say things like: “that’s something to tell the grandchildren!” when they do something out of the ordinary, or have an experience that is half-way interesting…and I suppose it’s this miserable fear of sitting in a rocking chair at 80 years old with nothing interesting to say that motivates me to push on and fill my life’s tapestry with weird and wonderful stuff! You only get one life to live, and all that lark…right? And I don’t want my most thrilling tale to be something about how milk and eggs used to be a lot cheaper, “back in my day…” as I slurp on soup, and fill a plastic bag with pee…

With that said being a cautious person is not entirely a bad thing, and you certainly shouldn’t relinquish control completely, that could prove to be disastrous! In fact, it actually reminds me of a situation a few years back where I found myself cornered in a Sunderland bar in the early hours of the morning – you see a possibly (definitely) psychotic football hooligan had taken an interest in me and wouldn’t let me go…he was too engrossed in his life story, which included a penchant for stabbing police officers in the neck with broken plastic pens during riots – and a claim that he will never stop doing heroin because it is “too fucking great to stop”. And whilst I must concede his sounded like a very interesting life to live – this is perhaps not my suggestion with this rambled post.

I would in actual fact suggest a person can still live a wonderful life even without stabbings, and heroin. I know, a controversial view – but I’m somewhat of a radical I guess! 

All it takes is simply loosening your grip on the “what ifs?” every so often…letting your guard down to different experiences, and occasionally pushing yourself out of your comfort zone. After all it is here where true rocking chair memories are made…

So why not get started today?

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Drunk Sign Language

On another seemingly normal day I ran into a new friend…sort of…well, a random stranger who had a rather urgent message for me in an unknown version of sign language. I have actually no idea what was going on – but it takes all sorts to make this weird and wonderful world, right?

Still haven’t got the foggiest clue what was going on…

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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How To Make Friends

Everyone likes friends, right? And no…I’m not referring to the sitcom (although I totally could be, and the point would still be valid!) But how do we make these friends?

Again, good luck in Friendsville…my friends.

If you have a video request you can leave a comment, or send me an email – if it’s a cool/interesting idea then I will get to it as soon as I can!

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Please buy my collection of stories! Get it in paperback here – or on Kindle here! ALL proceeds go towards Macmillan Cancer Support!