Sometimes we're stuck in a position in life where we don't know what to do. Choosing a school, a job, a battery-operated waterproof colon juggler ... there's a wide range of situations and events that may give us pause. And it's those pauses that seem to have given rise to an endless stream of platitudes: terrible sound bites and half-squirted brain turds that seem to almost vaguely offer advice while at the same time say almost nothing whatsoever and certainly offer no real help when you actually need some insight or guidance.
For the most part, we recognize platitudes for what they are: Twilight-level philosophizings on life that waste oxygen and do little else. But dammit if some people don't take a few of them to heart, to their own detriment. Well, no more. Platitudes, I got your number, and I'm about to wipe my ass on it. Your number, that is. I hope it's soft.
#4. "You Can Do Anything"
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The idea that you can follow a dream is one of the most noble and rewarding ideals ever thought up by mankind. Think of how many brilliant writers, performers, scientists, and more have gotten to the pinnacle of their professions because they believed they had the skill and ability to be the best. It's inspiring. It also needs to be tempered by the fiery sword of bullshit and reality.
I want you to take a look at this fellow here, whose name is D4nny. I suspect he spells it that way because he legitimately doesn't know any better. I need you to try to handle this video at least until the chorus is finished.
Still conscious? Good job. Now, let's suppose a few things. Suppose D4nny here is legit and that is actually how he sings. This is the level of skill D4nny has. Suppose that all the messages on his Twitter are legit -- the messages about never giving up on your dreams, and never listening to "haters," and so on and so forth. Suppose D4nny here really believes that he can pursue his dream of becoming a famous singer.
D4nny is fucking deluded, and so is everyone who supports him. If you can look me in the eye and tell me you honestly believe this man has a chance at a musical career, you deserve a slap in your sassy mouth for either being so bold a liar or refusing to accept that you have a hearing disability by faking your way through life. I'm not being one of these fabled "haters" that creep through the meadows and enchanted forests of the Internet. I'm being completely honest and genuine when I point out, devoid of malice or ill will, that D4nny cannot sing well. He does not make pleasant music in any objective way, let alone subjective. He's awful, and he will never, ever be successful. It's a shame he does not have anyone in his life who cares enough about his happiness to be honest with him and let him know that not giving up on this dream will see him wasting his life.
"This tattoo means success! Time to get that job running a day care now!"
What I just said sounds like a downer, and the optimists out there will say I have no right to make such a claim -- who am I to tell someone what dreams they can pursue? Well, I'm a guy who can hear. And so can you. Don't enable the delusional. Especially if you really do care. Some people can absolutely chase a dream and make it, but you know what, I will never be in the NBA. As a pasty lump of unkneaded dough who gets a solid 2 inches of air when standing still, I have no game. If I pursued a career as a ballplayer, I wouldn't just fail; I would probably make people around me worse as a haze of shameful lack of talent oozed from me wherever I went.
There's something to be said for practicing and getting better at something, but not everyone is going to be an astronaut, and sometimes you sing so poorly that it makes dogs wet themselves. Telling people they can do anything and to never give up is telling them to beat their heads against a wall.
#3. "Things Could Be Worse"
This is arguably the most depressing platitude of all, because you use it only after you get shit on. You wake up one day and your best friend sleeps with your spouse, your dog dies, you lose your job, and you get diagnosed with Puckett's Erratic Dysentery. What an awful day. But hey, it could be worse -- your house could have fallen into a sinkhole, and you could have found out that your mom and dad are brother and sister and that's why you suck at math.
You don't deserve to be shit on by yourself after life shits on you, so never tell yourself that things could be worse. That doesn't mean you need to wallow in self-pity like some kind of mega-baby; it means you need to deal with and come to terms with what is wrong with you and move on. To say "things could be worse" is an awful way to minimize what's happening to you. It's like calling yourself a whiner. Yeah, I'm on fire, but hey, I'm not being fisted by an ape. That may be true, but being on fire sucks, and you need to be OK with admitting that. It doesn't make you weak or sad in any way. You have as much right to be unhappy about unpleasant circumstances as anyone; you don't need to suffer more than anyone has ever suffered before it's OK to acknowledge it.
"Well, I did get shot in the brain, but at least hamster windmill pig fucker."
This platitude almost amounts to blaming the victim, in this case yourself, for whatever is wrong with you, and it puts you in a position to refute your own feelings. Why would anyone ever want to do that? Because we're conditioned to in a society that wants everyone to shut up and be happy. Ever heard a parent tell a child to eat all their food because there are starving kids in Africa? If you cared, you'd box up my leftover broccoli and send it to the Ivory Coast, not make me choke it down. How does my nausea help a starving boy, anyway? It doesn't, but the sentiment is only to make you feel bad about the way you feel.
As it happens, most platitudes serve this purpose -- to make you basically bend over like a bitch and be happy about it. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger, this too shall pass, tomorrow is another day ... they all mean that, yes, you're currently being rode like a majestic stallion across the frontier, but why are you complaining? Just shut up, my show's on. If I had to guess, they were all legitimately thought up by someone who wanted to be polite and supportive but also just got sick of listening to their friends complain.