12 Stupid Things People Care About Way Too Much

12 Stupid Things People Care About Way Too Much

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What would a month in blogging be without yet another obligatory “X Things that Blah Blah Blah” post for all of you and your friends to share? Because reading these days is just too boring unless it’s put into an easily-digestible list form.

Well, good news: I’ve heard your attention deficit disorder calling and so I have responded: 12 Stupid Things People Care Too Much About. Now shut up and go share it on Facebook or something.

1. Whose Fault it is

Imagine this. You’re babysitting two kids. Hell, maybe it’s your own kids. And they’re running around shoving each other and doing usual obnoxious kid things. Then suddenly you hear a crash. You run into the room, and the super sacred $5 billion dollar vase that Grandma made with her bare hands during the holocaust was knocked off a table and broke into a thousand pieces.

What happens?

Whose fault is it?

Hey everyone, let’s play the blame game.

The two kids immediately point to each other and blame the other. They present their cases. They start whining and cutting each other off. Now, let’s say one of them seems to have a more likely story. Let’s say one of them is a little violent shithead and you have a hunch that it’s probably his fault anyway. What do you do?

Nothing. You either punish them both, or do nothing.

None of this changes the fact that both of them were running around and being reckless around nice, precious objects. None of this changes the fact that theoretically, both were behaving negligently enough to cause destruction. It also doesn’t change the fact that the vase is broken and is never coming back. One could even argue that it’s your fault for putting such a valuable item in a vulnerable place around kids (idiot.)

We spend a lot of our time and effort looking for whose fault something is, even when it doesn’t matter. You order a cod at a nice restaurant that is undercooked and sucks. You want to blame the chef so you call the manager over and go on a tirade. But who knows, maybe the cod was poorly prepared by the sous chef, or the manager himself didn’t store the cod correctly the night before. Or maybe they tried buying from a shitty supplier. Or maybe there’s a poor system of communication in the restaurant and so misunderstandings are prevalent and this affects how the food is prepared.

But no, the chef sucks, fuck him. Fire him.

As humans we all enjoy a scapegoat; we need a scapegoat. You see this most often with government. An entire bureaucratic system may be fucked up, causing continuous waste and inefficiency. So what happens? A few people get blamed and fired and the system continues. The public is satisfied. Someone is blamed and punished, so everything must be right again? Wrong.

There are times when it’s important to know whose fault it is. Like when engaging in chemical warfare. Or finding out who pissed on the toilet seat. But in most of the cases of our lives, it’s an inconsequential distraction. And it’s based largely on ego gratification and little on actual life improvement. What’s done is done. Accept it and move on.

2. Celebrity and Sports Gossip

These people directly affect your life in absolutely no way whatsoever. Your obsession and investment in them is worse than harmless entertainment, it is a way to live vicariously through the idealizations of who you wish you could be — if only you weren’t so afraid to get off the couch and actually do something. Yeah, there, I said it.


Or as Lil’ Wayne once said, when asked if he was concerned that people may look to him on how to live: “If you need a rapper to tell you how to live your life, then maybe you ain’t got no life.”

3. Sexual Jealousy

A lot of people get jealous and possessive in relationships. They don’t like their partner talking with someone else, or hanging out with members of the opposite sex without them. Some people get even crazier. They get jealous about things that happened before they met their partner. They get jealous about things that might happen in the future. Hell, they get jealous about things that didn’t happen but could have happened.

Sexual jealousy is a waste of energy and toxic for your relationship.

It’s really simple: either you trust your partner or you don’t.

If you trust your partner, then shut your mouth. If you don’t trust your partner, do everyone a favor and dump them.

“Well, what if I trust them but they lie to me anyway?”

Then trust that one day you will find out. Dishonest people cannot hide their dishonesty forever. Eventually it will surface and be obvious. And on that day, dump them.

The worst part of sexual jealousy is that it drives your partner to commit the exact actions in which you’re trying to prevent them from doing in the first place. Imagine you’re dating somebody and this person is insanely jealous. Everything you do they accuse you of lying to them or sneaking around behind their back. Every person of the opposite sex you speak to they accuse you of flirting or freak out that you’re sleeping with 10 other people.

What’s stopping you from actually cheating then? I mean, you’re going to get yelled at whether you’re honest or not. Apparently they believe you’re a dishonest person anyway, so you may as well get the benefits from being dishonest, right? What’s stopping you from cheating? Not much.

4. Being Right

There’s an old saying, “The man who knows everything learns nothing.” Let go of the need to always be right. This one is really simple. How do you learn and improve and become a better person? That’s right, by being wrong about stuff. So try to be wrong about stuff a little more often.

Besides, nothing’s more annoying than somebody who will argue to the death over some inane detail that doesn’t matter anyway. I like to punch those people.

(OK, I don’t really, but it sounded cool to write that. Don’t forget to share this article on Facebook and tell all your friends how this one dude punches people who annoy him and how awesome that is.)

5. National Politics

Pop quiz: name your town’s mayor and one representative to the state legislature.

No? Then please shut up about Bush and/or Obama.

Our lives are more directly affected by the results of local politics, yet nobody cares except old people, religious nuts and conspiracy theorists. Instead, we all want to focus on the big stage. In the US, there’s particular weight and importance placed on the US President, someone who ultimately wields less power than Congress, the Federal Reserve, or in some cases, the Supreme Court. But the president is an easily consumable personality. He’s easy to argue about and to blame for everything (see #1), when really the fucked up roads by your house, the poor medical funding, the zoning laws that are screwing up your neighborhood, the education crisis and the disaster relief are all city and state issues that you’re all but ignoring.

flip flopping obama from trekbbs thanks obama meme lol wtf

National politics matter, but they are given a disproportionate amount of attention and importance. National politics drive profits for the national media markets, therefore they get the air play. Since they get the air play, everyone loses their shit over them.

6. Trying to Impress Other People

If you’ve read this site at all in the last two years, you know how far this doesn’t get you. Take a moment and think back to the three most embarrassing moments in recent memory. Let me guess, at least two of them happened while trying to impress someone. Funny how that works.

Trying to impress other people is a natural human trait. We all want to put our best foot forward. The reason trying to impress people rarely works out very well is because human beings are wired to not simply look at surface-level behaviors when judging another person’s character, but to also look at their intentions and motivations for each behavior. So you can do a cool action, but if you’re doing it because you’re insecure and want people to like you, people will see through it and find you annoying. See: Bono from U2.

This is why one-uppers — people who take what you say and then tell you how they’ve done something bigger or better than that — are so annoying. They’re trying to impress us, to dominate us, to show superiority over us. And the fact that they’re trying to be superior proves to us that they’re not.

8. Being Offended

There are some people in this world who seem to believe that they have the right to never be offended, ever. This drives me crazy. Part of freedom of expression is that some people, some times, are going to annoy you or offend you. That’s part of life. And unless you’re inciting people to commit acts of violence, then you really can’t tell them not to.

Being offended is a choice. It’s the difference between getting upset about an insult and simply laughing it off. It’s the difference between trying to silence somebody else and simply acknowledging that they have different values than you do, even if those values are really fucked up.

I get comments on this blog all the time that I find offensive. I almost never delete them. Recently, I had a guy who made a sexist comment about women (the comment was to an article about dating, what a coincidence.) Instead of getting up in arms about it, I simply informed him that I thought he was an idiot. I probably offended him back. And now we’re not friends. It’s amazing how a free society works.

9. The Fact that I skipped Number 7 on this list

Get over it.

10. Buying a Bunch of “Nice” Stuff

I’ll spare you the Fight Club spiel. I’ve already written at length about how owning more possessions can limit your identity and happiness, and how wealth is determined by the quality of your experiences and not your assets.

But let’s look at this from a more practical point of view. What’s the point of buying a bunch of nice crap? 1) To impress other people. 2) To feel better about yourself.

We’ve already covered how well impressing people goes over. (Spoiler Alert: Not well.) Not to mention, what you’re also concurrently inspiring jealousy from other people, which just turns nice people into assholes. And then you might get offended! So that’s no good.

But let’s look at feeling better about yourself. There’s mounds of psychological research showing that materialism leads to greater rates of depression and less happiness in people. There’s a reason the US has some of the highest rates of depression and anxiety disorders in the developed world. That dependence on external validation to feel good about one’s self causes low self esteem and makes you miserable. So let’s just leave it at that.

Sure, buying luxury items can be cool and enjoyable. If you’ve got the money to throw around, there’s nothing wrong with it. But basing your identity and self-worth on the quality of your possessions and how those possessions stack up to others is a losing battle. Even if you win and have the biggest toys, you lose.

11. Waiting in line for 36 hours to buy some new product the day it’s released

Seriously, don’t you have something better to do? And if not, isn’t that a problem?

Go home, the iPhone 5 will still be there tomorrow.
12. Hiding Your Flaws

People fall in love with each other’s rough edges. Paradoxically, it’s our flaws and vulnerabilities that make us unique and endearing towards others. The more we’re willing to reveal where we come up short, the more intimacy and connection we’ll generate in our personal lives, and the happier and healthier we’ll be in the long run.

I’ve written at length on vulnerability, and a few years ago I based an entire book on the idea. But it really is amazing how our culture encourages more and more to live up to some impossible ideal, some empty vessel of perfection.

Of all people Mike Tyson recently said, “Just because you’re famous doesn’t mean you’re successful.” You could replace “famous” in that sentence with “rich,” “beautiful,” “popular,” “intelligent” or a myriad of other adjectives.

Where does real success come from? It comes from being satisfied — not because you’ve reached some pinnacle or final destination of success — but satisfied with that constant process of improvement. It’s recognizing that life is riddled with faults and mistakes and appreciating them as much as the successes. Because when you appreciate your faults, they lose their power over you. Instead of your weakness they become your strength. And ironically, they’ll draw other people into you more than ever before.

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109 Comments

Leave a Comment

  • Reply

    ryan taylor

    1 month ago

    there is no number 7

  • Reply

    BethlehemPA

    1 month ago

    I’m offended that there is no #7.

  • Reply

    Goober

    1 month ago

    I Love that you skipped #7.

  • Reply

    Kevin

    1 month ago

    And you want to know who to blame, right? :P

  • Reply

    Jennifer

    1 month ago

    HOWLED with laughter. Thank you.

  • Reply

    michael collins

    1 month ago

    *applause* well done sir, well done. I will be rereading this periodically in the future, to reinstate these sentiments.

    • Reply

      JF

      1 month ago

      agreed! I struggle with some of these, and it’s good to periodically read things that remind you what really matters in life.

  • Reply

    KS

    1 month ago

    Apple hater. lol!

  • Reply

    Audrey

    1 month ago

    I think there’s a difference between being offended and pointing out why someone else’s opinion is fucking bigoted. To many bigots spout on about how they are immune to criticism because of ‘freedom of speech’.

    • Reply

      Jeremy

      19 weeks ago

      And you would be one of those people the article is talking about. Mind your own business. If someone wants to be a bigot,then that is them. You don’t have to be one, but don’t think you have the right to decide how another should act.

      • Reply

        Alec

        19 weeks ago

        If they don’t want to be told they’re a scumbag bigot, then they should keep their mouth shut around other people. Not that complicated. Just as they have the right to spew garbage, I have the right to tell them it’s garbage. That’s not being offended or getting in someone else’s business. They gave you their opinion unsolicited, therefore you have every right to give your opinion of their opinion.

        • Reply

          femPOW

          10 weeks ago

          That’s like someone saying, “If you’re constantly looking for racism, you’re gonna find it.” Well, it shouldn’t be there in the first place, no? If someone has the right to offend me, I should just sheepishly sit there and take it? No. I will always advocate for myself, and others who need a voice. I think people who get annoyed by those who declare that they’re ‘offended,’ are just showing that they can’t handle criticism, and refuse to take a look in the mirror to see their own shortcomings.

  • Reply

    Arnold

    1 month ago

    My first time reading an article from this site which was recommended by a mentor. Enjoyed the article and a great reflection hitter.

  • Reply

    Flo

    27 weeks ago

    AMEN NIGGA. I love this article, especially number 8.

  • Reply

    Dustin

    21 weeks ago

    Hey I’m only like 17, I’m going through a really hard time but so many of these articles have helped mee.. Like I can’t stop reading them thank you

  • Reply

    Maggie

    20 weeks ago

    Moderate your language, please. Using effing doesn’t make your points more valid, it just makes you look ignorant.

    • Reply

      Mark Manson

      20 weeks ago

      That’s so fucking true. :)

    • Reply

      Deborah

      20 weeks ago

      I would disagree with Maggie. The use of expletives shows passion. I had a university professor who used the F-bomb all the time in his teachings. His course was the most memorable and best one I ever took! And if you look at Mark’s writing, surely you can see the breadth and depth of his intelligence. He is no ignoramus!

    • Reply

      Jeremy

      19 weeks ago

      Using effing just makes you look like a wuss. Say it if ya gonna say it or don’t.

    • Reply

      Christy Nichols

      19 weeks ago

      Maggie…. Studies have shown that individuals who use expletives are overall more passionate and trustworthy.

      So go fuck yourself.

  • Reply

    Khalyle Jones

    20 weeks ago

    so..Im going to be frank..

    This is by far one of the most awesome articles I have read.

    I’m going to go on and say the hiding your flaws issue is one that i fight with sometimes.

    lol farting in front of the person you are dating is the only thing i try to avoid doing, but i don’t mind at all when the person I’m doing does it in front of me.

    lol i dont apologize if this grosses anyone out, i think relationship farting is perfectly normal and people need to know that :)

    keep posting you are gr8

  • Reply

    Anacho

    20 weeks ago

    People feel their feelings instantaneously and immediately when “reacting” to their environment. It is therefore very easy to accept popularity as as an indication of value. To accept what their social environment shows them as important as genuinely so. Take all the examples above and test them. Is the value decision driven by external or internal convictions.
    The dilemma of today’s global, instaneous, data infused society is that the individual no longer exists in a monocultural state where almost everyone has the same values.
    It’s takes a lot of very hard thinking to figure out what is important to one self. Social concensus is much easier and appears safer, even though objective evidence shows otherwise.
    The question for me is: Have we been teaching ourselves and more importantly, our children how to figure out what is valuable in its own right? Or is it simply easier to let the media and social convention persuade us of what’s of real value and what’s just subjective, “perceived” value.
    Apple, for instance, builds it’s niche market success on this perceived value, building a brand and lifestyle people can adopt which will set them apart from the rest of dullards, for an extra 30% on the price tag. Reeks of Etonian elitism crossen with Rockfellerian hubris. So why do millions follow so religiously?

  • Reply

    Joe Crud

    20 weeks ago

    You cared enough to write a piece on things people care way to much about, and I cared enough to tell you that I don’t care enough about it.
    By the way, that was only 10 things you lying, cheating, son of bitch. I want my money back.
    :^)

  • Reply

    ben

    20 weeks ago

    I am sexually frustrated by the lack of #7. I am right about it, and it’s all your fault.

  • Reply

    Wildman

    20 weeks ago

    Wow. Great article. I enjoyed reading it. I didn’t like the fact that number 7 wasn’t there, but I got over it. I will now reflect this on my life and make myse

  • Reply

    Bo Coutts

    20 weeks ago

    I didn’t even notice that you left out no.7.. THAT’s how awesome your writing is, the numbers don’t matter, the hilarious insight does!

  • Reply

    Katy

    19 weeks ago

    Regarding the part that reads: What’s stopping you from actually cheating then? I mean, you’re going to get yelled at whether you’re honest or not. Apparently they believe you’re a dishonest person anyway, so you may as well get the benefits from being dishonest, right? What’s stopping you from cheating? Not much.

    While I totally agree that sexual jealousy is something people spend way too much energy on, the quote above is a little misguided. Hopefully the only thing stopping someone from cheating isn’t the fact that they don’t want to be yelled at. A person who avoids doing something because they’re afraid they’ll get caught isn’t a good match anyway.

    Despite that one part, this is a great article full of healthy reminders.

    • Reply

      Bob

      19 weeks ago

      If people would stop believing that monogamy is a good thing the world would be a much better place.

  • Reply

    Kelly

    19 weeks ago

    Last embarrassing moments in recent history? Any time I’m in public around people. I guess I’ve figured out what my problem is – “The reason trying to impress people rarely works out very well is because human beings are wired to not simply look at surface-level behaviors when judging another person’s character, but to also look at their intentions and motivations for each behavior. So you can do a cool action, but if you’re doing it because you’re insecure and want people to like you, people will see through it and find you annoying.”

  • Reply

    GW

    19 weeks ago

    #5 Politics – I will let the following quotes speak for themselves:

    “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
    ― George Washington

    “A primary object should be the education of our youth in the science of government. In a republic, what species of knowledge can be equally important? And what duty more pressing than communicating it to those who are to be the future guardians of the liberties of the country?”
    ― George Washington

  • Reply

    Tiph Hunter

    19 weeks ago

    Very Nice and well spoken! Love the “voice” of this article- funny without trying to be- raw & forthright, real and educational! The things said here in this article make sense to me, they will be practiced more and more each day.

  • Reply

    This Is My Handle

    19 weeks ago

    I did not like your article.

  • Reply

    crystal

    19 weeks ago

    You left off those parents that think it’s okay to keep their kids up until midnight togo to a movie opening. Then allow them to stay home from school the next day. Great article! !!

  • Reply

    anonymous

    19 weeks ago

    the sexual jealousy response one is actually extremely stupid. your partner is insecure and has issues trusting you (which there may be a good reason for), so you go ahead and just cheat on them? great job, you’re proving their delusions to be true instead of working through them together. i really hope no one takes this list seriously.

  • Reply

    CS

    19 weeks ago

    LOVE the Bono comment! I think that really drove the point home! Great article!

  • Reply

    Zainab Shabbir

    18 weeks ago

    nice article

  • Reply

    Joey

    18 weeks ago

    you should stop caring what other people care about, why let these things anger you
    though i agree with most of these, everyone is entitled to their opinion and the way they’d like to live their life
    even if it is lame

  • Reply

    Mariah

    17 weeks ago

    Dude I love your take on life!! could you do an article on decoding of an attractive woman’s representation to society/others?

    • Reply

      Anna

      14 weeks ago

      I’d love an article on this as well.

  • Reply

    Tiffany Bailey

    15 weeks ago

    O. M. G. I am in luuuuuuv. I just discovered your blog today. I’ve read two articles thus far, and I jus’ don’t know what to say. I’m pretty sure you are my separated-at-birth fraternal twin. Can’t wait to dig around a bit more. Keep up the great work; thanks for putting your voice in print!

    Tif

  • Reply

    Mike

    3 weeks ago

    Pretty good. My favorite is National Politics. I am a political science major and that one drives me nuts, and I’m glad you mentioned how much more important local politics are.

    Before big budget 24-hour news people were far more involved in local politics. The way national politics captures stupid people is a little alarming. I’m always a bit unnerved by it because while, as you point out, the President is not necessarily the most powerful (although actually you’re sort of wrong about that — the President is pretty effing powerful when the stick of office is wielded correctly) he is the easiest to follow because he’s one guy. The Founders were actually afraid the President would eventually be able to have that sort of power of persuasion over the people; I guess we’ll just have to wait to see how their doom and gloom scenario plays out.

  • Reply

    Chia

    2 weeks ago

    Well done, Mark! Love “no number 7, get over it!” Love the iPhone one too! I’ve read many of your posts, going from most recent to this one. You are an excellent writer & most importantly a very insightful person!Thanks for putting it all out there!

  • Reply

    Miriam O'Sullivan

    5 days ago

    It really doesn’t bother me what Bono’s motives are behind his actions. He may well be a diva. No I wouldn’t want him as the next president of Ireland. But if he’s doing good for the world what odds does it make if his motivation comes from an insecure-ness or whatever? Everyone is insecure about something, aren’t we? Everyone has an ego too don’t we? Yet most of us use these uglier traits to stay small and insular and an excuse for never reaching our full potential. Often it seems insecurity and sense of ego stop us going after things for fear of failure. Good on you Bono for going after what you want and keep on going, just maybe don’t believe your own hype so much :)

  • Reply

    Adam

    5 days ago

    Not as tight as your usual stuff- need some editing around the bizarre ‘punching in the face’ sidebar and the #7 comment

  • Reply

    Chris Earnshaw

    5 days ago

    So what you’re saying is… there’re 11 Stupid Things People Worry About…? ;)

  • Reply

    Melinda

    5 days ago

    Finally an individual who speaks his mind and doesn’t care what other people think. Ironically I thought about making a phony profile this morning on Facebook just so I could write on other people’s wall that NO ONE GIVES A SHIT what you had for dinner or if you should go to bed at 9:30 or not. Seriously, just because it’s an open forum doesn’t mean you should speak those silent thoughts your having in your head. Hello, they are silent for a reason, because they should remain so. Really you could have changed the title of the article to “Everyone’s a Narcissist” because frankly we’re all guilty of it. However, after reading this article it makes it much easier to identify those whom are coming a mile away. Now I’m not without guilt of “One-upping” someone but the rest of the list was just plain comical. What I have said all my life “What a waste” (and believe me I say it daily) is really validation that I must be doing something right in life. This article was just down right hilarious and spot on. Thanks Mark. I think I shall pass this along to everyone of FACEBOOK and not anonymously.

  • Reply

    Garrett

    4 days ago

    I really just don’t get the whole skipping number 7 business. Is it a joke that just went over my head?

  • Reply

    Ben

    4 days ago

    I know you are trying to up circulation, and the ante is raised when hiring on, but don’t try to compete with Buzzfeed or you’ll lose your voice. This post had some good content, but was ‘half baked’.

  • Reply

    Veronika Gulyas

    4 days ago

    This post is awesome. I like your straightforwardness and cut-the-bullshit approach. Would have loved to work with you but English isn’t my mother tongue. So I’ll continue to enjoy reading your stuff and fantasize about your future job offers inclusive of crazy Hungarian journalists.

  • Reply

    Warren Beatty

    4 days ago

    #3 you schooled me. Brilliant reality slap in the face on hyperfocusing on national politics over more important local affairs.

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