New year, same me. Why life hacks are for hacks.
There has always been a kind of susceptible personality who is drawn to that annual bonfire of vanity that is the New Year’s resolution. Weight-loss teas, electric-shock devices that promise to develop your abs while watching TV, even a method that whispers new languages into your brain while you sleep—these and many other fads await to suck time and money out of the unwary like a vampire who also wants to sell you a timeshare.
It was only a year or two ago, for example, that we were assured no January would be complete without buying a Peloton. For a while that bourgeois bicycle became the status symbol for the kind of vainglorious strivers who constantly post social media updates about their relentless self-improvement.
The humble exercise bike is a bit of cringe decor that had its first moment in the 1970s, around the same time as the Holden Torana and onion-skin short-shorts. But this new generation of pedalling poseurs turned it into a cult, complete with an expensive required wardrobe and unwavering allegiance to various guru-like instructors, whose club-music-fuelled workouts promised to dispense adrenaline like a party drug.
But soon enough the Peloton fad rolled off a figurative cliff, lumping the selfie set with expensive, suddenly unfashionable hardware they couldn’t give away. The only thing worth less than the bike was the company’s stock, which plummeted to three percent of its peak value. For those of us with the sense to sit out the whole silly fad, the drama was as satisfying to consume as a Jack’s Creek wagyu steak washed down with a 2018 Penfolds Grange.
That’s why this year, I’m leaning in to staying out of New Year’s resolutions. Because now a new generation of influencers and life-hacking charlatans is filling social media with an endless stream of objectively terrible advice. You’ll find influencers recommending you change your eye colour by injecting dye into your pupils, or add freckles to your face via permanent, stick-and-poke tattoos. (Don’t do either of those things.)
The financial “hacks” are even worse. The same knuckleheads who two years ago were promoting NFTs as the new get-rich-quick scheme, and last year cryptocurrency, are now swearing by AI. It makes spending thousands of dollars on a towel rack (aka a Peloton) seem almost prudent by comparison.
Like invasive surgery and tax assessments, the only good New Year’s resolutions are the ones that happen to other people. But by all means, cheer on your neighbours this January if they want to invest in the latest overpriced stationary bike. After all, it’s easier to keep up with the Joneses when they’re not going anywhere.
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