Many midlifers may not be humming along with Frank Sinatra's "It Was A Very Good Year" as they close the door on 2012. It was a year of still-high unemployment, retirement plans deferred, adult kids who remain at home, and an election that showcased the fractured sound of our nation's voice.
It was also a year when 10,000 more of us turned 65 each day and our collective thoughts focused more sharply on what we want our final decades to look like. Leaving aside the big issues of Medicare, Social Security, and the distinct possibility of eating cat food if the housing market doesn't recover fast enough, this was also a year where we grappled with the smaller stuff: Should we color our hair? Must we Botox our way to a new job? When did our eyebrows disappear and will this $75 cream help them return home?
Yes, there are some pesky things that annoyed the living daylights out of us in 2012 and hopefully they will disappear along with the old calendar. What would you most like to say good-bye to? Please contribute to our list (and please do not include us).
1) Lies, lies and more lies.
Didn't it seem that everywhere you turned in 2012, someone was making stuff up? We held an election where the truth-fact squads may have played a larger role than the actual candidates. We follow the gospel of social media and yet can't always differentiate between the on-the-scene citizen journalist and the huckster sitting in Nigeria with a gift for Photoshop. We just kind of shrug off the blatant exaggerations, the doctored pictures, and the totally fictitious writing that passes as news. Say, have you heard the one about the taxi driver who drove the old woman around for free all night just listening to her stories and she died the next morning and left him a changed man? Let me send it to you on Facebook for the 40th time.
For 2013, I'd actually just like a dish of truth served at room temperature. No spin, no agenda, no added seasonings please. Life is interesting enough without enhancement.
2) The total faith in smart technology.
Smartphones and devices are ubiquitous, but they don't know everything. I love my iPhone and it never leaves my side. What I don't do, however, is trust it implicitly over my better judgment. I pulled into a gas station a few weeks ago to ask for directions, much to the horror of my children. I have a GPS in the car and on my phone.
"Just ask Siri," the kids clamored at me. Well, sometimes Siri and I don't seem to speak the same language. The guy in the gas station? He can tell me if the freeway ramp will be on my left or right so I don't need to cross four lanes of traffic to get there at the last minute. He can also tell me that there is a great place for breakfast burritos right across the street, and he knows if he's my last-chance for gas before I enter the long stretch of highway. Siri? Let's just say she and I have trust issues. Ever since the iOS6 upgrade, I think she's possibly more directionally challenged than me.
3) Businesses that pretend to be generous but aren't really.
This possibly falls under lies, lies, lies. Superstorm Sandy was an excuse for some companies to trumpet their "largesse" by offering a whooping 20 percent of all sales to the cause. Pardon my suspicious mind, but this smells like a wolf of a Black Friday sale in sheep's clothing. The business wants to sell you stuff. If it wanted to make a donation to Sandy victims, it would simply write them check. Period. This is less an act of benevolence than it is a act of trying to boost sales. Sandy adversely impacted thousands of lives. It is not a marketing opportunity.
4) The expression "insanely awesome" coming out of the mouth of someone post 50.
I accept that every generation has expressions that bind it. Flashing a hand sign and saying "Peace, man," immediately told someone who I was, what my politics were, and to a great extent what music I liked to listen to. Hearing it come out of the mouth of someone much older, well, that was just weird unless it was Abbie Hoffman.
A newly divorced friend went to a singles mixer this year hoping to find someone special. An eager suitor in his late 50s approached her and within the first three minutes proclaimed four things as "insanely awesome." Deal-breaker. He didn't sound young, hip or anything except maybe foolish. I'll allow for foolishly nervous, but the end result was the same: My friend bolted as quickly as she could extricate herself. He was no Abbie Hoffman.
We are what we speak. When we try to sound like someone 30 years younger, the results are awkward.
As for "awesome," it's a term probably nearing retirement itself. It has been used to describe everything from your daughter finally finding a job to the sushi she just ordered. (Insanely awesome is presumably a double-order.) I'm already bracing for "random" to dominate 2013.
5) Social media sharing that isn't.
Gang, we've covered this ad nauseum. Showing me a picture on Facebook of your breakfast isn't sharing. I want to hear from you. Call me. Let's have lunch. Send me some photos of your kids, tell me how your Mom is doing, whether the new job is working out. Real stuff, real life. Posting pictures of your scrambled eggs? That's navel-gazing.
6) Mean people.
You know who you are.
You are the Internet troll who behaves badly as a commenter, all the while shielding your identity behind anonymity. You are someone with strong beliefs and are intolerant of those who don't share them; it's your way or the highway. Your world has no victims, just people who deserve whatever fate befell them. You want to surround yourself with those who are like-minded and harshly judge those who are not.
Please go away.