Be wary! Be very wary! All hail the New Year list! Yes, those lists that are prevalent after the fat food and drink that faded our memories. Tell us ten books you read! Tell us all about ten albums that defined your teenage years! List ten people who broke your fucking heart! We have all been suckered into these lists and they seem rather mundane, ever so nostalgic and gentle. Like your Great Aunt who has come around to talk about 80s music or the time she got her first CD player. Yes, we are that old. All that was new is now retro. All that was ancient is now mythology. The record has become mystical. Yet, like your Great Aunt these lists aren’t necessarily going to tell you what they are up to; your Aunt is never going to open up about what she did with that car mechanic whilst listening to George Michael’s Careless Whisper in the back of his Ford Fiesta.
I am sorry if that seems rude, but it is, that’s life and nothing appears to be what it seems including Ford Fiestas which were great up front but incredibly uncomfortable in the backseat. Which brings me neatly back to those uncomfortable, back breaking lists that people are proliferating social media with because all the booze has run out. Ten things that defined their teenage years, really?! You define seven years of your life into ten albums that people coo or spit at? So, somehow being older seems easier because others affirm or disagree that Jarvis Cocker was a god? Yes, he wiggled his arse at Michael Jackson, we all saw it. Even people who weren’t born say they have seen it. So seven years boiled down to ten things that define all that life, all that joy, all that glory and shame, all that breaking of your voice, sweating of nether regions, movements in the night, embarrassments by day, each spot, pimple, rejection, fumble and laugh boiled down to ten albums or ten sodding books?! You have to ask, why ten? I’ll tell you why. Oh, it is an old, old marketing research trick born new for the twenty-first century and all the inherent lurking algorithms that stalk our social media fears. Three answers to seemingly innocuous questions a good marketeer knows what you like, six questions they know what to sell you, ten they know your goddamn dreams. In weeks to come adverts will pop up selling soap on a rope Jarvis Cocker or hearing aids because you mentioned The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. Or worse still, ads for fire alarms because you mentioned Electric Six. Be scared shitless if you did novels, American Psycho = holidays in New York with Bateman tours, guaranteed the only trip of a lifetime. Watership Down = hunting days in Berkshire. Come bunny shooting. Lady Chatterley’s Lover = swinging clubs in Barnsley. So, the next time you see your friend do the ten listings and you think, ‘Oh, I must somehow define my past through the work of others rather than in my own achievements’ remember that behind your friend, and the friend they got it off, and the friend they got it off, and the ex they got it off, and the shit of a neighbour they got it off there’s a marketeer just laughing and laughing and laughing as the algorithms snort up your feckless, pigeon holing souls. Stop it! You’re being an arsehole. If you want to write a goddamn list tell me about every goddamn social failing you have ever done, tell me every time you turned your back on the needy, every time you failed to make a difference and stand up and be counted. Bet you won’t because let’s face facts you really don’t want to define your past, and your past is as much about your failures as those fleeting things you listened to or read. Stop being nostalgic. Start being counted.