Let’s start a revolution

I feel we should start a revolution. It’s getting to be too hard to say what I intend. I fall into some fixed phrase or aphorism or cliché, just waiting to gobble up my thoughts like black holes that then spew out something automatic.

Today, someone said to me that I have to start thinking outside the box. What he means is I have to accept his framework and his values in order to think properly. This is of course just another box. It may be a bigger box or be a box with a different shape or it may even be a smaller box. Because, let’s face it, you can’t really think through anything unless you do it inside some mental container.

The editor asks me to write a humour column of 650 words or less. I decide to think outside the box and hand him a 1000 word essay on the difficulties of writing well. How will that work exactly? And in writing the other piece, I have to change my frame of reference, so I am really just inside another box.

You can’t get away from the need for a box, otherwise you might as well just write gobbledygook, which may or may not be funny. Some people value spontaneous nonsense but between you and me that is just another type of box because if you write something logical and meaningful, it doesn’t fit the dimensions of that particular crate. So quit telling me to think outside the box and tell me what you really mean.

I receive e-mails with attached videos from acquaintances who gush that the video is “spectacular, a must-see.” When I watch it is usually an interesting bit from the news or a cute film about a cat playing with a dog. Very cute. But a “must-see”? Maybe not.

We have somehow been infiltrated by consumer speak and the advertising pitches. Sometimes a film is a “must-see” because there is nothing else about the subject matter which would cause you to look. Without that special compulsion of “must”, you might just ignore it or send it to the trash bin. But your acquaintance is now putting the pressure on you. You have almost a moral obligation to watch this video especially as they will send a follow-up e-mail asking how you liked it. Couldn’t they just ask you to do them a favour and watch the darn video? No they try to create some sort of independent compulsion so that it’s not them asking but some impersonal authority that tells you that you “must see” this.

The ad in the paper notes that the recent horror film is also a “must-see” but I avoid it anyway. So as part of my refreshed and reinvigorated persona in the new calendar year I am going to start doing the opposite of everything that comes at me in the form of a cliché. If I have to see something or read this message or listen to this recording I will erase it or ignore it. If I am told to think outside the box I will start a lecture on why it is impossible to do that, thus annoying the person who said it to me and ensuring that they never say it again. And if all of you start to do the same thing, who knows, we might create a movement. Vivà la revoluciòn!

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