Abstract Academic: People like stuff

I asked one of my English students the other day what I should write about this week, mostly because I was up to my uvula in compare/contrast essays and didn’t want to think about anything. This highly academic young man scratched his peach fuzz, looked upwards toward the godly fluorescent lights, thought a moment, and gave me an answer that filled me inspiration:

“Write about how people like stuff.”

Our future is in excellent hands, dear readers.

People do like stuff, Steve. For instance, Steve likes dorkishly large headphones, flannel shirts and sleeping during Act 3 of “Hamlet.” But Steve (whose real name is Brad, but I’ve changed Brad’s name here to Steve to keep everyone from knowing just how dorky Brad really is) has a real point there. People really do like stuff. If you don’t believe me or Steve/Brad, just check Facebo—

No. I refuse to write another column about over-sharing on social media. I’ve over-shared about over-sharing. I only have four more columns, and I’m not going to waste one on complaining about Facebook.

OK, maybe just one thing: Hey, you. That kid who posts way too often. Yes, you. The one with the fedora and kinky sideburns. Stop doing those open-ended invites for “anybody with time in the next hour to come meet me at Applebee’s bar and share a plate of boneless buffalo wings,” especially when you know that absolutely no one is going to show up. What’s worse, no one’s even going to comment on your lonely Applebee’s invite, and we’re all going to see it in our feeds (between the “Opportunity to Make Money Burning Fat” and pictures of babies making faces). And that e-shamefulness is going to force all of us who friended you after that one semester of English 1010 to picture you sitting by yourself on a Friday night at the Applebee’s bar, with mediocre sauce all over your hands, sighing uncontrollably, and maybe some Savage Garden is playing a little too loudly, and there’s nothing but soccer on the television. Soccer, dammit. Get a hold of yourself.

But getting back to the matter at hand — people like stuff. People like chocolate, puppies, laughing babies, parkour videos, Ellen DeGeneres and being told they look skinnier. People like warm towels, late mornings, bosses/professors who go skiing more often than they probably should, and putting bacon on anything.

People also like stuff they wouldn’t ever admit to liking: crummy reality TV shows, staying indoors and watching the entire series of “Firefly” on a nice summer day, double cheeseburgers, Weird Al Yankovic, Eggo waffles and celebrity gossip. My wife really likes wearing Spanx (I’m not entirely sure what those are, but they sound humorously functional). I probably have 17 percent of my brain devoted just to NBA trade rumors. How embarrassing for us.

More importantly, people like stuff that they don’t even know they like: complaining, slurping soup and unreasonably keeping Carson Daly in positions of public employment. Sometimes, when you point these things out to people, they get really mad. Like when I point out to Californians how they really can’t stop talking about how awesome California is all the time. Which is always true. They all like In-N-Out Burger, and big watches, and complaining about any form of precipitation, and saying that they “like, grew up surfing, like, all the time” (I mean, c’mon, man. We all know you grew up in Sacramento, which is about as close to the beach as Denver).

Anyway, Steve likes stuff, and Californians like stuff, and my wife likes Spanx, and I like writing, and awkward Facebook folks like eating boneless buffalo wings alone at the Applebee’s bar on Friday nights.