From Wednesday, I’m going to live without reading lifestyle columns in The Guardian. I want my life back. I want my soul back.
I’ll never know how many people link to this blogpost below the line in comments on an article on The Guardian website. Nor will I get to read comments suggesting that a blogger and tweeter like me needs to embrace the whimsical delusions of self-publicising charlatans. And that is no bad thing, for the moment this blog is read by more than five readers – pandering to the worst excesses of sensationalism, populism and deceit over honest exploration of the important question of how to pronounce scone – I (and you) lose, and those who need to be held to account for commissioning bollocks in serious newspapers win.
The reason I won’t see any reaction in the Guardian is because come Wednesday I will live a state of Utopia with a self denying ordnance whereby I cast aside so-called modern conveniences like those columns providing answers to questions people send in about relationships (I’ve never found them particularly believable – I mean, a Henry vacuum cleaner, the “necessity” of wearing dungarees, and your BFF?).
From Wednesday, I’m rejecting the world of simple unadulterated pseudery entirely. That means no Guardian lifestyle columns, no fashion tips, no make up columns, no why this pasta has transformed my life, no 101 things to do with humus, no consumer survey examining how best to accessorise your chestnut stuffing with a garland from a number of high street (and two independent) shops, no pretentious Tom Goods explaining how they’re going back to nature, no readers’ examination of the problems of relationships going stale because you’ve both read the Pamela Stephenson advice and shrugged and rolled your eyes, no semi anonymous open letters to family members or friends who made some faux pas in 1993 that you’ve never forgiven, and no articles that have involved some bloke making a bet that he can get “solar photovoltaic system” into a column shared widely on twitter.
Rejecting a part of a newspaper website that people on the twitter consider to be the basic necessity of life wasn’t done on a thoughtless whim. I already miss not being able to share sarcastic comments about people that the liberal elite have already decided are idiots.
I decided to eschew complex pseudery for two reasons. The first was that I found myself happier away from the Guardian lifestyle pages and the relentless sanctimony they generate, and instead living intimately with other parts of the internet (where there are videos of Margarita Pracatan and articles about television programmes from the 1980s). The second, more important, was the realisation that the Guardian lifestyle pages destroy, in more ways than one.
It destroys our relationship with normal people. It first separates us from folk like ourselves, while simultaneously converting life into the ramblings of people so reeking in sanctimony that even Gandhi would consider giving them a slap. Not only does it enable us to destroy warm feelings for society efficiently, over time this separation has led us to valuing people we encounter in day to day life less in case they’re the sort of person that will midway through a conversation say “Did you read that piece about quinoa?”, meaning we protect and care for society less. By way of this vicious cycle, we are consciously causing the mass extinction of goodwill to all men, and at Christmas too.
We know that, at the very least, some columnists are harming our view of the world, our society and, ultimately, ourselves. Therefore we can recognise the need to reject these lifestyle (and other) columnists. We’re going to have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. I’ve drawn mine.