Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken. – Oscar Wilde, playwright
I’m a sucker for lists.
I see a list on some website — you know, the 25 best this, or the 10 worst that — and I’m on it, pointing and clicking feverishly until I’ve consumed every bit of ordered information. I even have a list about lists. It’s called "The top three things I do with online lists":
1. Click on it.
2. Read it.
3. Share it with family and friends.
The Internet knows this about me — and about millions of other humans, evidently. Which is why you see so many lists floating around in cyberspace. Never mind that comparatively few of these lists have any scientific, academic or technical merit. They are fun, and they generate web traffic by distracting and entertaining me and everyone else who loves a good list.
Or a bad one, for that matter.
Take today for example. The first thing I saw on my Internet home page this morning was a link to “11 gross facts about cute animals.” Is there a better way to start your day than that? So I clicked, and they were right: These 11 facts are pretty gross, although their definition of what constitutes a cute animal (Jackals? Hippos? Really?) is probably debatable.
Then I headed over to my hometown newspaper’s website and saw a list of the 25 healthiest cities in America. Unfortunately, I think I got carpal tunnel syndrome after clicking through 25 pages to find out that according to some standard of measurement that I couldn’t even begin to explain, Boston is No. 1. I assume this means baked beans are very healthy.
Then I clicked to CNN.com, and there was a listing of “50 easy game day snacks.” Since I’m big on both game day and snacks, I jumped into this list without even thinking. OK, so maybe it was a little too guacamole- and hummus-centric for my taste (I’m pretty sure lima bean guacamole is either immoral or illegal — and don’t even get me started on the cauliflower hummus). Still, the bratwurst sliders looked amazing!
My favorite list of the day, however, was an uncredited listing of “45 ultimate tips for men”. Since I’m a man and the father of two men and grandfather of at least five future men, I paid careful attention to this list.
For example, I really like the first tip: “Go for women you perceive to be ‘out of your league.’ You’ll surprise yourself.” That is certainly how it worked for me. And Tip No. 23: “Always stand to shake someone’s hand.” I’m embarrassed to say I have been guilty of at least two sit shakes recently. I’ll work on that. I wish someone had given me Tip No. 10 years ago: “Buy a plunger before you need a plunger.” There’s a story associated with that, but I’ll save it for another day. Which isn’t easy for me because I really believe in Tip No. 29: “Go with the decision that will make for a good story.” Where would this column be without that one?
But the list saves its best advice for the end, which I offer here as a tip for both men and women: “Don’t change yourself just to make someone happy, unless that someone is you.”
That’s an important sentiment for everyone trying to figure out who they are — as we all must do at some point in our lives. It reminds me of something the great American poet e.e. cummings once said: “To be nobody-but-yourself — in a world that is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else — means to fight the hardest battle that any human being can fight, and never stop fighting.”
It also reminds me of what noted philanthropist Bernard Baruch said: “Be who you are and say what you feel, because those who mind don’t matter, and those who matter don’t mind.”
“Be yourself,” added poet/playwright Oscar Wilde. “Everyone else is already taken.”
That’s four great statements on being yourself. You might even call them the top four quotes on the subject.
Hey! I just made another list!
Click it! Read it! Share it!
To read more by Joseph B. Walker, visit josephbwalker.com. Twitter: JoeWalkerSr