The Tribes: Which New Year Resolution Guy Are You?
Because of an arbitrary calendar invented by pagans, underpinned by the social construct that is time, events have conspired to bring us January. Like rising damp or U2, it is, predictably, in our midst once again. It is a month like no other, upon which we project our hopes, desires and deepest, darkest fears, as if it were an all-knowing deity with the ability to save humanity if the requisite sacrifices are presented. We tell January we will stop drinking. We will become better husbands, we say to January, on our knees, hands clasped together. We will, we promise January, stop calling spaghetti bolognese “spag bol”. It’s all so predictable. Whatever wonderful things you plan to do at the start of 2021, whichever person you have decided to craft yourself into, it’s been done before and we are one step ahead of you. See for yourself.
The born-again vegan
Your friends aren’t sure if it was your partner (reads all the messages on the WhatsApp chat, never contributes, apart from that one time they asked if you were allergic to chickpeas) who inspired you. Or was it was the Sir David Attenborough documentary that moved even your warm-beer-drinking uncle? Either way, this January, at the age of 41, you have decided to make not eating animals into some kind of viable personality. What’s more, you are treating this as if it were somehow novel, as if Ms Linda McCartney had never been invented. You haven’t just stopped eating bacon that is more unspecified liquid than pig, have you? You also lecture your friends about the vulcanised rubber in their bike tyres. Right this very second, you’re wondering if the sugar eaten by the yeast in the artisan loaf of bread you just spent £19 on first passed through bone char. This is not about the planet. This has nothing to do with not killing livestock. This is about you, isn’t it? It’s all about you changing your Twitter bio and covering the Apple logo on your Mac with an Extinction Rebellion sticker because you’ve run out of ideas.
The guy who has completed culture
To the silent annoyance of absolutely everyone you hold dear, you spent most of 2020 on furlough from your inexplicably well-paid job. And, instead of watching Tiger King, pretending to bake and questioning the concept of existence like everyone else, you, infuriatingly, used your time wisely. You busied yourself with a side-hustle – you use the term with a straight face. You somehow kept fit (we loved seeing your daily Strava data on Instagram). And you meticulously and joylessly devoured every single shred of culture ever produced by mankind on any medium, ever. You approached watching documentaries, listening to podcasts and reading books as if you were revising for a vital exam entitled simply “content”. And you got full marks. You have a PhD in interests. And now you sagely recount your litany of hot tips like Jesus delivering sermons to the needy: niche documentaries on 1950s Japanese comics buried in the depths of the YouTube algorithm; music Aphex Twin had forgotten he’d produced; a podcast on sebum. We are blessed. “Yeah, Succession was OK,” you say. “But have you seen Rashomon on Kanopy?” We haven’t. You know we haven’t. But please, do tell us all about it.
The grateful hermit
Apart from the Deliveroo and DHL guys, you have not seen anyone who isn’t a slightly blurred screen rendering since March 2020. It is not that your pals can only be summoned via apps, it is just that you, deep down, are happiest in your own company, doing very little. The small matter of a global pandemic has been a welcome facilitation of this very pure desire. The world (your apartment) has been running on your time and the hope and promise of a new year is not going to change your outlook, or your socks, any time soon. You have become your truest form. That may well just be you but with stained tracksuit bottoms on, but, finally, you are free. The invitations have dried up. Many of your long-held, pariah-worthy opinions on social activities (no one would watch plays if they were on TV, dinner parties are just time-consuming vehicles for mortgage conversations) have been vindicated. When the chips are down, when things get real, what survives isn’t baby showers, work drinks or having to eat your neighbour’s “actually tastes like normal cake” vegan cake. It is The Sopranos, your cat and your collection of graphic novels.
The meditation pretender
Your usual method of relaxation is ingesting the unknown contents of a small baggy and drinking precisely eight pints of cheap lager. So this scheme you came up with on 1 January in a fog of crippling anxiety will come as a surprise to no one more than yourself. Yes, after hazily searching “mediytartion” in the App Store and signing up for a month’s free subscription, you have officially decided to get into “meditation and stuff”. You’re not sure what this practice that dates back to the sixth-century Upanishads entails exactly, but it can’t be that hard, can it? Miraculously, you spend January not drinking. The fact that everyone else who has a semi-problematic relationship with alcohol is doing the same – a pastime so common they branded it – is lost on you. You are on another plane. You are connected with Being. You close your eyes every morning for four minutes and listen to the bathroom extractor fan. You are a spiritual entity in a world of Forms. Until, ding! The reminder you set for 31 January to avoid a £9.99 app fee sounds and, with it, the first step on your spiritual journey back to the pub.
The anti-social media evangelist
You have deleted your social media apps. Twitter, Facebook and Instagram are no more. You’ve gone off grid. You’re an enigma. You’re sticking it to the major western internet conglomerates. You are Mr Edward Snowden. Or Mr Ray Mears. How do we know? Because you tell us all, on WhatsApp, that gargantuan, Facebook-owned social media platform, at a rate of roughly once every 1.6 days. You spend more time talking about algorithms, AI and behaviour engineering than you ever did liking, swiping and posting. You’re bored, aren’t you? You have inadvertently exposed a yawning chasm in your soul and look what it has done to you. That time you posted a picture of your girlfriend holding confectionary and hashtagged it #cupcake? You were a monster. Now you’ve mutated into a more pernicious beast, a toxic hybrid of smug, patronising and brutally well-informed. There is not an article, study, TED Talk or social media post that you cannot conjure up from the ether, as if accessing an unseen computer screen, like that bit in Minority Report. Yes, looking at pictures of your ex is worse for you than spinach. We know, mate. We’ve all seen The Social Dilemma. Now leave us to our memes.
Illustrations by Mr Pete Gamlen