Just as Mary Poppins discovered that she was spit-spot and span and that her every virtue knew no bound, I’ve determined that I, too, am practically perfect in every way.
That’s why this year, instead of making New Year’s resolutions for myself, I’ve decided to create a starter list to help others.
I’m just that sort of guy.
So, here are a few resolutions that most everyone can adopt.
Stop using emojis.
I’m not sure who thought it was a good idea to attach insipid pictures to every message, but it’s not.
Mankind has been refining the written word for thousands of years and, even in the third millennium B.C., they managed to write the Epic of Gilgamesh without using any pictures. Abandoning the written word for depictions of grinning poop and zucchinis isn’t clever. It’s a return to hieroglyphics, and that’s not progress.
On a slightly different note, resolve to read a book.
Look, if you’re a grown adult and think that movies based on comic books provide a profound commentary on the human condition, you really need to make a trip to a library.
Get yourself a real book.
There’s lots of them out there.
You can start with The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn or To Kill a Mockingbird and work your way up to Woolf, Brontë, Salinger or Alighieri. You’ll note that none of them have emojis or super heroes but many of then will make you think.
Here’s another one.
Resolve to spend at least as much time talking to real people as you spend looking at your phone.
The average person spends more than three hours a day staring at their phone, and if you have ever looked at your phone while your sharing a meal with others, at a party with friends, or playing with your children, admit you have a problem.
If you’re one of the ten per cent of people who confess to looking at their phone while having sex, throw your phone away.
Learn some science.
Start with trying to understand Newton’s first law of motion and then apply it to the next time you cruise your Ram 1500 within two feet of the car ahead of you.
Then find some other material that provides real scientific information. It’ll be the stuff that cites reliable sources on issues like climate change or vaccination.
Acknowledge that re-tweets and postings on Facebook are most often not reliable sources of information. The earth is not flat, climate change is real, vaccinations work and conspiracy theories without peer reviewed , provable facts are just fiction. Treat them as such.
Then, as nicely as possible, tell the next person who tries to convince you of some conspiracy theory that they are an idiot and move on.
Of course not all resolutions or self improvement suggestions are quite so grumpy.
Resolve to have some conversations with an elderly neighbour.
There’s an aging population out there with a wealth of experience and if you actually take the time to speak to them — and listen — you might find that you learn a thing or two about life.
I’ve spoken to Second World War Two vets who lived through the rise of fascism in the world and been given amazing insights on human nature as it applies to current politics.
Others have taught me about the enduring joy of true love and how to deal with heart-rending loss.
Unfortunately, our digital environment often pushes those wisdoms aside and it’s a mistake.
Finally, resolve to slow down and appreciate life.
If you’ve found yourself lane changing traffic lanes a half dozen times, only to achieve little more than 100 feet of progress, take this one seriously.
Resolve to slow down and enjoy your journey, recognizing that, by doing so, you can regain perspective. And while you’re at it, take time for the people in your life. They won’t always be there.
Follow these resolutions, and have a peaceful new year.
Tim Collins is a Sooke News Mirror reporter.