A Brief Guide to Dealing with the Curmudgeon in Your Life

Hi Internet!

Since about 75% of the people I know have, in the last month, decided, en masse, to call me a curmudgeon at every opportunity, I’ve decided to write up a small guide detailing how you, someone who has optimism that has not yet been crushed by the world, can care for (read: bear to be around and/or kind of but not really understand) the curmudgeon in your life.

Jobs

Remember that your curmudgeon probably had hopes and dreams at one point. Yes, much like yourself, your curmudgeon once aspired to make his or her living by working full time in the arts, but, upon realizing that doing so would take either an inordinate amount of luck or a willingness to live with parents, decided that just getting a job and pursuing art outside of that would be easier. The curmudgeon is a sort who has wired him or herself to look at the world not through rose-tinted glasses, but through extremely dark sunglasses. Doing so allows the curmudgeon to function in a way that sort of mimics normal human behavior, but also still mine day-to-day life for ideas to fuel their art. When discussing jobs with your curmudgeon, be prepared for cynicism brought on by endless reading about labor exploitation, the increasing wage gap, decrease in middle-class jobs, increase in workplace automation, and any number of other topics that are constantly bouncing around in your curmudgeon’s brain. Above all else, don’t respond with exasperation, because that will just lead to another rant about how no one’s bothering to pay attention to the economic collapse that’s surely coming.

Art

“All art is shit, aside from these very specific things,” is the refrain of the imbecile. And while the curmudgeon may say things that sound like that, don’t be confused into thinking that is what your curmudgeon believes. No, your curmudgeon likely believes that there’s just a ungodly amount of stuff out there that he or she cannot, for the life of him or her, understand. That doesn’t make the rest of that stuff bad, or bad art, it’s just baffling and tiring to check out. That said: Electronica, as a genre, should end before it destroys the world.

To the curmudgeon, art isn’t exactly something to be discussed too much as something to be experienced. And, like most things, the curmudgeon would rather experience that art alone, and not have to narrate the art while experiencing it. When discussing art with your curmudgeon, remember to be prepared for a long, circuitous back-and-forth that may start off with an initial premise that everything is shit, but will eventually lead to a conclusion that there are just a few genres that the curmudgeon can handle without wanting to hibernate from too much sensory input.

Romance

Love is a sham and everyone knows it. Next topic.

Politics

Chances are your curmudgeon once had a favorite politician. That politician may have stood for the same ideals that your curmudgeon had for the world. Chances are that your curmudgeon really, really believed in that politician, thinking that they could change the world and that things would be for the better if they could just get into a position of enough power. Then, naturally, your curmudgeon saw that politician crash and burn in a scandal – like Anthony Weiner’s Twitter dick pics scandal. Yes, your curmudgeon may have really liked someone like Anthony Weiner for their brash tone and their commitment to making the US into a progressive place, and then saw that, no, they’ll fuck up and prove incapable of handling the fallout, thus taking away yet another person who could feasibly, prove to be a rallying point for the left in the U.S.

Discussions with the curmudgeon on politics will always be had with this in mind, so be ready to be told “Look, you just have to cut your goddamn losses,” or “accept that nothing’s going to change unless in small increments.” Do not–do not–mention revolution as a means to affect change in the world, because then you’ll be treated to a minutes-long monologue about how revolutions just wind up with heads on the ground and a worse system than before. This may make you think your curmudgeon believes that the U.S. would be better off under British colonial rule, but your curmudgeon is really just thinking about the following revolutions:

  • The Chinese Revolution that brought Mao into power
  • The Bolshevik Revolution that brought Stalin into eventual power
  • The Cuban Revolution that brought Castro into power
  • The French Revolution that resulted in way too many people dead
  • The fact that we still had to get through the Articles of Confederation

When the curmudgeon says something like “Besides, the US has never really been a place with civil politics,” that’s a sign that they have stopped thinking about you as a conversation partner, and are now thinking of you as an impediment to getting back home and looking up election scandals throughout American history.

Technology

Technology, in the eyes of the curmudgeon, is the ultimate necessary evil. Without it, we’d still be banging rocks together, but, on the bright side, if we were still banging rocks together, you’d see more animal diversity on the planet and there wouldn’t be nearly as gnarly climate change.

Specific to the Internet, the curmudgeon would rather the whole thing be destroyed. He or she has done their time in the dark corners of the Internet, and knows very well what’s lurking there, thank you very much, and no amount of cat or dog videos can save humanity once that comes pouring out into the real, human world. That said, the Internet does let the curmudgeon have wide access to the art that he or she really does like, so that’s pretty cool.

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