Today is January 1, a day which only comes approximately once a year. It’s a day to sleep in, get up and have breakfast at McDonalds, go look at the ocean, put a beef stew in the crockpot, and reflect. Reflect on the previous year – which only seems like yesterday – and hopefully turn some of the events of last year into teaching moments. What important lessons did I learn in 2018?
Lesson One – Stop With the Paprika. 2018 was a year I learned more about cooking, which was good news for me, and for my daughter who lives with me. We both became more experimental in the kitchen and cooked a lot more, and some of that food was actually good. But a glaring reality stared me in the face this morning as I was putting together the above-mentioned beef stew… I have at least four containers of paprika in my pantry. Oh sure, one of them is smoked paprika, and so it’s good to differentiate that one. But there are at least three – and possibly more like seventeen – containers of identical paprika in my pantry. One of them is the giant size, about the size of a super big gulp. It’s just too much, and obviously I’ve gotten a little careless and impulsive with the paprika. So what I’ve learned, and hope to pass on to you is – stop with the paprika. You probably have enough. This lesson is not a metaphor for anything – just stop buying so much paprika. That’s it.
Lesson Two (Also From the Kitchen) – Check your labels. Two refrigerated bottles of dark-colored liquid, of similar size, stored near each other in your refrigerator, are not necessarily the same thing. Another way to put this lesson – worcestershire sauce and balsamic vinegar are not interchangeable. This lesson is also probably not a metaphor, but I guess it could be.
Lesson Three – Get Rid of At Least 53 Friends. That is, if you’re using “friends” in the fake world of social media, where your list of “friends” can grow ever higher, to the point where you’re not sure how you’ve accumulated so many, not unlike containers of paprika. When your friends seem less like friends and more like paprika, you probably have too many (that’s the title of my next book). Anyway, on New Year’s Eve day I decided to look through my list of Facebook “friends” and see if anyone needed to be dumped. Too many “friends” are like too many of anything – you don’t know where they all came from, they’re not really helping you, and they’re taking up space. So today I’m about 53 “friends” lighter heading into the new year.
I’m using quotation marks around “friends,” because “friends” and friends aren’t the same thing, as anyone who’s used social media for a while can tell you. Here’s who got cut from my list…
- People who I can’t recall ever meeting, or having any sort of remote connection with, in real life. I figure they won’t notice me cutting them, so they’re gone.
- People who have more than one Facebook account. It just feels dishonest to say I have 650 friends, when a handful of those are duplicates of one another. In a few cases, I had to guess which “friend” was the real “friend,” but I pretty much based it on which profile photo I liked better. Hopefully it will work out.
- People who are dead. I know a handful of people, both friends and “friends,” who have died over the past several years. Yet for some reason, they’re still in my “friends” list even though they rarely, if ever, post anymore. I hope to see them again someday, but I doubt if it’ll be on Facebook.
- People who I have actually met or spoken with in real life, some with significant frequency, but who have turned out to be just nuts. People who post stuff I can’t deal with – because it’s not true, or it’s offensive, or it’s dripping with ignorance – or all three. A few of those people had to go. My guess is they probably won’t notice. To be clear, I don’t have a problem with people who don’t agree with me – I have a lot of non-quotation-mark friends like that. That’s no problem. I do, however, have a problem with people who are crazy, and feel the need to express that craziness in social media. I’m too old, too busy, too something. I don’t need it.
OK, there it is. Three of 2018’s most important life lessons – stop with the paprika, check your labels, and use this new year to trim off some of those excess “friends.” You’ll have a much better 2019.