Earlier this week, I watched a video of a commencement speech by actor Charlie Day. (My favourite part starts at 16:42.) He’s pretty funny in it, and the students clearly enjoy listening to his jokes about college life. But it’s the ending that makes it clear why it’s been watched more than 2 million times online. The writer and actor best known for It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia talks about how success in life isn’t really about doing what you love or makes you happy. It’s often about being somewhere that makes you better, that pushes you to be great, and places you with incredible people to help you get there along the way. It’s about failing, a lot. And it’s about choosing to take the right risks despite fears you may have about well, pretty much everything.
Our accounting midterm is tomorrow. We’re learning all this stuff about bad debt expenses, balance statements and cash flows. A lot of people think it’s dry, but the professor is great, answers all of our questions, and many of us can already see how it will make us better journalists. I can already see how it matters, because I can actually feel myself really learning stuff, and then I read my industry-leading professors write stories like this:
In Silicon Valley, this was a story about investors and hype. In Phoenix, patients faced harm. https://t.co/s5BPHW5pBU
Stunt journalism has always seemed fun to me in a way that acknowledged part of what you were doing was ridiculous and self-indulgent, but you were going to take the reader along for a fun ride anyway.
In the grand scheme of things, I am a nobody. I have a moderate amount of Twitter followers, but not that many compared to many people I know. Most of the time, I hope I make people laugh with goofy jokes and occasionally cheer them up with photos of Noodle. “How can anyone hate pictures of a cute dog?,” I thought.
I started blogging 15 years ago. I started with TeenOpenDiary in high school (now dead), OpenDiary (also dead), Livejournal (2003-2010), Blogger (2003-2006), then WordPress since 2009. Thousands of words typed into the internet. Sporadic bursts of updates and enthusiasm, then fatigue at chasing views and feedback through comments. Lots of wondering if anything I said had any value, or would have been better served writing in a paper journal instead.
One of the best literary rants ever published in modern literature is in Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl.
Men always say that as the defining compliment, don’t they? She’s a cool girl. Being the Cool Girl means I am a hot, brilliant, funny woman who adores football, poker, dirty jokes, and burping, who plays video games, drinks cheap beer, loves threesomes and anal sex, and jams hot dogs and hamburgers into her mouth like she’s hosting the world’s biggest culinary gang bang while somehow maintaining a size 2, because Cool Girls are above all hot. Hot and understanding. Cool Girls never get angry; they only smile in a chagrined, loving manner and let their men do whatever they want. Go ahead, shit on me, I don’t mind, I’m the Cool Girl.
Men actually think this girl exists. Maybe they’re fooled because so many women are willing to pretend to be this girl. For a long time Cool Girl offended me. I used to see men – friends, coworkers, strangers – giddy over these awful pretender women, and I’d want to sit these men down and calmly say: You are not dating a woman, you are dating a woman who has watched too many movies written by socially awkward men who’d like to believe that this kind of woman exists and might kiss them. I’d want to grab the poor guy by his lapels or messenger bag and say: The bitch doesn’t really love chili dogs that much – no one loves chili dogs that much! And the Cool Girls are even more pathetic: They’re not even pretending to be the woman they want to be, they’re pretending to be the woman a man wants them to be. Oh, and if you’re not a Cool Girl, I beg you not to believe that your man doesn’t want the Cool Girl. It may be a slightly different version – maybe he’s a vegetarian, so Cool Girl loves seitan and is great with dogs; or maybe he’s a hipster artist, so Cool Girl is a tattooed, bespectacled nerd who loves comics. There are variations to the window dressing, but believe me, he wants Cool Girl, who is basically the girl who likes every fucking thing he likes and doesn’t ever complain. (How do you know you’re not Cool Girl? Because he says things like: “I like strong women.” If he says that to you, he will at some point fuck someone else. Because “I like strong women” is code for “I hate strong women.”)