Sunday, March 28, 2010

Get A Life - The desperate cry of the intellectually threatened and the obnoxious

The guy that grooms that beard every day is telling me to get a life? Oh, okay.

No doubt someone has expressed that you should "get a life" at some time or another. It is also likely that you, yourself have said it to someone.  The phrase is commonly used when someone is seen to be doing something that is deemed as a waste, disagreeable or unfit use of time. I hearby pledge to refrain from using the phrase ever again for the arrogance and presumption that goes with it.

When Google searching "get a life", this image came up. This man doesn't need a life, he just needs pants.

I was inspired to write this upon reading a line from Eats, Shoots and Leaves by Lynne Truss. The book sets out to straighten the record on the miserable state of punctuation these days, but as Truss points out, a punctuation stickler is often met with dissent, "When we point out illiterate mistakes we are often aggressively instructed to 'get a life' by people who, interestingly, display no evidence of having lives themselves." And right there lies the root of the problem in saying, "get a life". How does the perpetrator of the phrase suggest I better use my time rather than concerning myself with punctuation? Usually the persons saying it finds a life well spent with partying and socialising. Large amounts of alcohol consumed on weekends would constitute a life to these people, no doubt, but guess what? I do consume large amounts of alcohol from time to time and still manage to concern myself with matters of the English language simultaneously, or at least the next day when I can again tell the difference between a comma and an apostrophe. And even if I never touched a drop and spent day and night writing to shops and editors to correct punctuation, then that is my life. Indeed, "get a life" is commonly evoked by someone intellectually threatened. "Help! This person spends their time educating themselves while I tirelessly work to reach my goal of complete brain dysfunction by my chosen means of alcohol, a goal I hope to reach by 2023. How can I justify my life choice over theirs? Get a life!"

An imbecile's idea of a life.

One occasion at which "get a life" was bandied about like Paris Hilton's kooch was at a Paris Hilton book signing. You would automatically assume that the sentiment was projected at the people lining up to meet the Hag Empress, but rather it was they who were shouting it at myself and thirty or so others who were settled on the other side of the street, partaking in a protest of the event. In an effort to try bring back quality to the world of entertainment, my friend Chris Jackson founded the group H.O.P.E. (Horrified Observers of Pedestrian Entertainment) and the group's first action was to protest the signing. H.O.P.E. aimed to highlight how low we have sunk in terms of what the general population will accept for entertainment, and a Paris Hilton book signing was clearly the epitome of the problem. So we gathered, we waved placards, we chanted. The people who chose to line up to meet someone who was famous for nothing other than being born into a lot of money and having sex on camera screamed for us to "get a life". Why is it that if someone expresses a dissenting opinion to what someone is doing and are able to take out some time to think deeply about it and perhaps act on this dissent, it should be assumed they have no life? If I had been home that night watching Survivor followed by CSI, they would, no doubt, have had no problem with my life choices and would have been happy for me to carry on as I was. As my choice of activity took some effort to confront them and maybe tickled the part of their subconscious that knew that Paris Hilton shouldn't be pretending to write books, let alone signing them, "get a life" was spouted.

Our lifeless crew protesting a Paris Hilton book signing for a laugh, but also for reals.

Less extreme than that example are people that are quick to pass life judgements on the basis of taste. As promotion for The Simpsons movie, a handful of 7-11 stores across the country were converted into Kwik-E-Marts and I was delighted that there were two in LA so I could visit one. While the promotion was in progress, a conversation among friends ensued and I mentioned that I had visited one and that we had lined up for about 15 minutes to get in. My friend then said "Gosh, don't people have anything better to do? I mean, get a life!" He said it as though he were referring to people that weren't part of the conversation, even though I had just stated I was there, hence the knowledge of the line length. Furthermore, how is me or anyone else partaking in, what us Simpsons dorks deemed, a historical event any indication of what the rest of our lives are like? I suppose I found this particularly odd since this is a person who painstakingly blings his cell phone, something I do not begrudge them doing, but is by no means be a good use of time in my world. When broken down, it will often show that the Life Nazi themselves have no business assessing and grading the lives of others. As someone extremely critical of most elements of music, film and pop culture, I still do not deem people who follow things I don't like as requiring a life. I do deem them as requiring better taste though. Perhaps if there were as snappy a phrase to suggest someone improve their taste, I might be almost as offensive as the people I vent about now!

This one is okay because the green mushroom is a 1UP in Super Mario Bros. You literally get a life, so in this case, it's good advice for successful game play.

Unless someone has full knowledge of how someone spends all of their free time, they have no business declaring, on the basis of one action which they find unsettling, that a person should make some serious adjustments to how they conduct themselves to meet the standards that befit them, and obtain a life. Even WITH full knowledge of how someone spends their time, they can go ahead, eye roll, think things are lame, but must remember that the life is of the er...liver (?) and cannot be decided by anyone else.  I now eagerly await for someone to say it to me so I can challenge them about what they suggest I do instead.

I'm off to play FarmVille now. Got anything to say about that?

Oh shoot, maybe I missed the whole point...
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