Thank me for my vanity

It's the last day of the year, which means everywhere you go there will be someone who's looking back at the last 365 days and pointing out just why exactly it's been a good year.

What, you're going to complain about this again?

I... I don't know, to be honest.

You are going to complain about this again! Typical of you, Niko.

Well, I had a starting point, and I developed the rest of this in my head, but then I got angry at the world again and I tossed the whole lot because nobody really wants the thoughts I have when I'm at my angriest.

Good. Nobody cares about what you think--

Every time. Every single time.

I mean, when you're angry.

It's been happening more often lately, mind you. I think I'm still on some sort of stress response. Have been for the whole year, or something.

Blah, blah, boo hoo, you. Nobody cares about that. For God's sake, it's New Year's eve. Can't you be thankful for one? For something? Anything?

Ah, that's what I was going to write about! Yes, it's the last day of the year, which means everywhere you go there will be someone who's looking back at the last 365 days and pointing out just why exactly it's been a good year.

Stop right there, Niko.

For some, there really are reasons to be thankful. A diploma. A promotion. A wedding ring. Some other major achievement. Perhaps there's some money involved. A car. A house. A trip abroad. A lot of trips abroad.

Are you gonna say you haven't had any of these things, Niko? You've been to Hong Kong this year - twice! Twice in one month! You managed to save up for that--

Arguably we're still paying it off--

--but you still went to Hong Kong with your girlfriend! Your second couple trip abroad. And before you tell me that other couples have been out and about more often than you, is that really the basis of a good relationship?

Well, I wasn't going to say that. I know we don't go to a lot of trips but when we do we make sure it's worth it. And yes, it's just Hong Kong, but we chose the city to undo some geopolitical trauma. And then we'll take two more years to go elsewhere, or maybe four, if we're gunning for that Ghibli theme park in Tokyo. I hope I can get a visa. But anyway, that really isn't the point I'm going to make.

The problem here is, if you make that point you're going to make - once you make the point you've made before, I'm pretty sure - you will sound ungrateful. And nobody wants anyone who's ungrateful.

Well, I can't argue with that.

Great. Now, stop writing--

You scroll through your social media feeds because you've got nothing better to do on a holiday, and all you see are people showing off what they're thankful for, handily recapping what's happened to their year. Look at what we have accomplished.

Niko, you know more than anyone that it isn't a race, yes? You said it yourself. You're in a state of arrested development. What happens to them tends to happen to you much later. At least you have a girlfriend now. Six years strong, congratulations.

Thank you, but--

--will you shut up now?

--why is lasting in a relationship for six years worthy of congratulations? Isn't that what we're supposed to do in a relationship? Work hard to keep it going? Unless, of course, it's not going to work, but I don't think we're going to hit that point. But so many people have told me, "wow, five years, congratulations!" "six years, going strong, congratulations!" and I always found it a bit weird. Why congratulate us for doing what everyone must be doing?

Because it is still an achievement. Maybe you should be thankful for that. Post about it.

That's the thing. People talking about what they're thankful for, it feels like they're just showing off. Or flexing, to use a term I finally know how to use.

You call yourself a writer and you don't use the term "flex"?

Well, in the context of showing off what you know, or have...

You call yourself a writer?

I do, but it's nothing really special--

--even if so many people around you have expressed how they envy your ability to take all these thoughts and turn them into a coherent entity?

On a good day, which isn't happening so much lately...

Oh, boo hoo you. Shut up. Everyone has a bad day. And people have had worse days than you. You don't have the right to complain about what you're experiencing when other people have it much worse.

Well, you're invalidating what I'm feeling and I think it's you who should shut up.

Freedom of speech!

Anyway, I don't have Instagram, but I do have Facebook, and people can still cross-post between the two, so I still see all these heavily-filtered images about the fancy restaurants they've been to, and the tourist spots they've skipped for the less-obvious ones--

--fucking hell, you did exactly that in Hong Kong!

--and casual images of them after indulging in an obviously expensive hobby like, I don't know, playing tennis or going off-road biking. And, fine, it's what they like to do, and I'm not going to judge them on that. But they've got to admit that's them showing off how privileged they are.

Like you constantly mentioning that you don't have an Instagram account. Or your Monocle subscription. Or your iPhone X--

--I don't even mention that a lot, and besides, it's not like it's the only full-screen-except-for-a-notch phone out there.

But it's the most expensive one out there!

I'm still paying for it!


Tell that to everybody else who's also taken 24-month installment plans. And besides, I was due for an upgrade. And my old phone's wifi stopped working.

Stop justifying yourself, Niko. You're just like them. You're also showing off! You're just writing these things down so you can take the moral high ground and tell everyone - if there is anyone out there, and frankly, I doubt that - that you're better because you're speaking out about it and they aren't!

I have thought about that, but--

You're just flexing, Niko. You're just like them, but worse. You have the gall to do it while saying everyone else shouldn't! Fucking hell. The point you're just going to make? The point you've made many times before? The whole thing about how they try to shut up those who shatters the happy, optimistic nature of their social media feeds? That's you, you know that? That's fucking you. That's you shutting them up for showing off what they have because you have nothing to show off, or, really, you refuse to. And it gets under your skin, right? It gets under your fucking skin because you're a spineless coward. Just block them. Or quit social media. That's really the only fucking solution, don't you think?

But I have to use it for work.

You and your fucking excuses, Niko. If there's a will, there's a way. Coward. For the last time, shut the fuck up - and don't say that thing you're definitely thinking, that "I'm not a fancy person but I do appreciate the good things in life" thing accompanied by a photo from some European city or something.

Well, I was thinking of this college friend who just posted a photo of her boyfriend proposing to her in front of the Eiffel Tower. I mean, nice, but was that post about the fact that she's engaged or the fact that she was proposed to in front of the freaking Eiffel Tower? And that adds to her supposed brand. She's a social media influencer, after all, or so she claims...

And your responses...

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