“By the end of this lockdown, you should have …”
Many mini-genres of social media bulls**t have blossomed like dandelions in this crisis. One of the more rage-inducing is ‘productivity shaming’.
It has the following structure. It starts with: ‘By the end of this pandemic, you should have...’
Then, it lists the things you should have done. It uses American words like ‘side-hustle’ and ‘change it up’. Then, it finishes with, ‘and if you haven’t done these things, it turns out the problem wasn’t that you didn’t have enough time. It’s because you were weak’.
This statement has made many people angry. This productivity shaming is putting pressure on people to achieve, when, actually, surviving and keeping going are an extraordinary achievement in themselves. I agree, but still, it rankles me. These motivation types, with their clear skin and hairless shoulders, who talk about ‘crushing it’ (and not in reference to bringing calves in for dosing), what if they are right?
So, I decided to look for ways to change myself up. But with as little effort as possible.
Naturally, I started with my hair, as it’s always on my mind (or just above it, anyway). In the list of things that we miss, a haircut is very much in the ‘nice to have’ category. It pales into insignificance compared to what some people are going through. So, any hair-related discussion should automatically be preceded by, ‘Look, everything’s fine, it could be a lot worse, but anyway — hair’.
My last haircut was December 5, which means I’m approaching Irish haircuts of the Jack Charlton era now. I don’t know what to do with my head.
I’m hovering over the purchasing of clippers on the internet, but — and I don’t know if you’ve had ‘a mad head’ on you ever — there is a grim fascination with waiting, like when watching a fight outside a chipper; just wondering how this mess will turn out.
But the gurus say that by the end of this crisis, I need to have upped my hustle. So, yesterday, I shaved off my beard. I’ve been itching to for a while. Mainly, it is curiosity.
What’s going on beneath the foliage? Are there small animals in there, subsisting on bits of sausage sandwiches that have fallen from the benevolent Mouth God? Has an extra chin appeared? When I razed the mysterious face forest, I discovered not a whole lot, really. There are the same numbers of chins there always were: none.
But I did learn a few things. I stopped halfway through the shave, leaving just a large, awful goatee.
This has been useful, as now I know I could play a character in the Fargo television series who is a morally weak man with a strange head.
I learned it’s nice just to feel the spring breeze for a while. Or to have a face ‘like a piggy’, as my two-year-old puts it. My wife was laughing every time I walked into the room, but, thankfully, she’s a bit more used to it now and remembers to stifle. The beard will be coming back, but, in the meantime, there is relief.
The pressure to achieve is off. I have followed the gurus’ advice. I have ‘pivoted’ during this crisis. I have ‘changed my hustle’. I have ‘put on my game face’.
Or maybe taken it off.