Mundanely Assured Destruction
Updated: Jul 2, 2020
Everything is scary and confusing.
As the prospect of nuclear warfare becomes more and more real, sitting at home watching This Morning every day seems like a wasteful way of spending the last few months of my life.
If the world is coming to an end, I don’t really know how to act. I feel like I should probably surround myself with the people I’m closest to, and we should go on mad adventures and climb Mount Kilimanjaro and swim with dolphins and stuff. I’ll spend the days before the nuclear holocaust telling people how much I love them, giving them the praise they deserve. The only problem is I’m very insecure as a person, which makes it really difficult to be nice to people – because I worry that if I give someone a compliment, they’ll then think they’re better than me. Every time I say something nice about someone, I have to follow it up with, “but I’m a good guy as well.”
Also, it’s hard to go on mad adventures when you’re unemployed. Interesting things cost money. I’m stuck with the mundane. I should be doing something, but I’m sat here with the TV on trying to figure out the punchline to a joke I’m writing about Katie Hopkins. What’s the point? I dunno if I can take watching Philip Schofield any more. And I like him, I think he’s a good presenter, he’s talented, he’s good at interviews*, but I shouldn’t be seeing his face every day. I know more about his life now than I know about most of my close mates.
What’s frustrating about the sparring between Trump and Kim Jong-Un is that none of us caused it or are involved in any way, yet if it escalates we all have to bear the consequences. It’s like when you’re a kid and two of your brothers start fighting, and then your mum punishes everybody by taking away the Xbox. It’s so unfair. But soon tensions will reach breaking point, a nuclear strike will follow, and then none of us will get to enjoy the fun of having land that’s habitable.
Trump is insecure and emotionally volatile, and antagonising North Korea is his way of dealing with that. I can relate to that need for an emotional scapegoat – for me it’s normally girls who have rejected me. I get miffed at them for not forcing themselves to love me.
The last girl I liked ended up blocking me on Facebook, and it’s tough because now I can’t violently process my emotions in the same way. Being enraged by her Facebook posts was keeping me stable. It was a release. Now the only thing I can access is her LinkedIn profile. It’s not the same. I used to get angry at pictures of her and her boyfriend; now all I have to be jealous of is the companies she’s been with. It doesn’t get me as fired up. It’s very difficult to feel inferior to a pharmaceutical company. It’s too abstract a comparison – no one lies awake at night thinking, “what have GlaxoSmithKline got that I haven’t?”
I miss her boyfriend, Adam, or whatever his name was. He gave me that yummy feeling of inadequacy. He was handsome – and, crucially, not a corporation.
But just like getting angry at North Korea for the fact you’ve never truly been happy, being mad at someone for not wanting to be with you is absurd. You can’t force yourself to fancy someone. It would be like asking someone who doesn’t like olives to eat olives every day. They’d be like, “no, fuck off you creep.”
I suppose the pain of unrequited love is realising you’re an olive. It’s like, why the fuck do I have to be an olive? Sure, there’s someone for everyone, and sure, some people like olives. But they’re weirdos mate. Honestly, I’ve see them.
Anyway, I guess what I was trying to say is: I think enemies are important. Even if our reasons for choosing them are irrational, we need someone to blame our shit on; someone who ignites the hatred inside us on a day-to-day basis. Otherwise that person becomes our self. No one wants to be their own worst enemy; it involves too much self-sabotage. You end up staying at home watching Celebrity Juice and eating olives just to spite yourself.
We all need something external that we oppose. Labour need to fight the Tories; The US need to pit themselves against North Korea; and Katie Hopkins needs to rally against the Concept of Being Interesting.**
But as I sit here by myself, hurling insults at an unknowing Philip Schofield, I start to doubt that hatred alone can make us happy. The effort it takes to only see someone’s negative qualities is exhausting.
To get through the indeterminate time we have left on this planet, we have to connect with people as well. And maybe that doesn’t mean going on mad adventures, or giving people over-explicit compliments that make you feel bad about yourself.
The more I think about it, the more I see the value in the mundane lifestyle I have, because conversations about mundane things provide a way to reach out to people without making ourselves too emotionally vulnerable. When I message a friend about football, I’m really telling them I miss them, and that I’m a bit lonely. But the topic of conversation acts a disguise, to make it less weird.
Whether it’s discussing Coronation Street, or having an intense debate over whether Golden Nuggets are the best cereal, these mundane talking points help us feel closer to each other. Maybe Trump wouldn’t be shepherding us to the brink of nuclear apocalypse if he just had someone to chat about the Bake Off with.
As I ponder, my phone starts ringing. It’s Joe.
“Eric, I’ve been thinking about it,” he says, “and I’ve got two words for you: Cookie Crisps. Debate over.”
“To be fair you’ve done me,” I reply. “What you up to mate?”
“Watching This Morning.”
“Same. Philip Schofield’s a throbber ain’t he.”
“Yeah man. He was good on The Cube though”
We talk for 30 more about our favourite episodes of The Cube.
Maybe everything will be alright after all.
Anyway, that’s about it.
*But I’m also a great guy with many great qualities.
** I’m quite happy with that tbf.
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