Here is the Official List Of What People Must Stop Doing Immediately. More than 300 friends, colleagues and readers helped me compile this. It turns out that we are collectively well-versed on precisely those actions that annoy us.
▪ Stop saying “great again” when we talk about America. Sure, we need to do better in many areas, but we’re doing well overall. You’ve got it better than most of the world. Stop taking things for granted and give thanks for the freedoms other people have gained for you. Remember that rights are never given but are always won. They can also be lost. Let’s be proud of our achievements while moving forward and relentlessly accomplishing our collective goals.
▪ Stop texting while gerunding. (I have invented a new word and I like it.) Nobody should be dining, talking, driving or doing any other verb that can end with an “-ing” while on a cellphone. My friend and former student, Michelle P. Carter, has a way of emphasizing this rule: “Have everyone put their cellphones in the middle of the table when you sit down to eat. First person to reach for or touch their phone has to pick up the bill for the whole table.”
▪ Stop posting ads saying “Sally Field is Gone!” (Substitute Betty White, Judi Dench, Helen Mirren), making us think these women are dead when it’s just a website luring us to buy blowfish-based wrinkle cream and saying these great women are “gone from the movie scene.”
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▪ Anne Parris of the online magazine Midlife Boulevard insists we “stop sharing celebrity deaths unless you get it from a legitimate news source, and check to see it didn’t happen years ago. I can’t take ‘Golden Girls’ Rue McClanahan dying one more time.”
▪ Stop saying you can’t imagine “working in an office” as if having a day job is too soul-crushing for a delicate flower with imaginative gifts such as yourself.
▪ Speaking of desks, sitting won’t kill you. Who, exactly, is providing grants for scientists to study the lethal effects of sitting? Getting sentenced to “the chair” can kill you. But the worst that can happen from just sitting in a regular one is that your tush falls asleep.
▪ “We need to stop saying ‘everyone’s a winner,’” instructs Georgia blogger Gianetta Palmer. “Because we know it’s a lie. Sometimes you lose. It happens and the world isn’t going to end because you didn’t win.”
▪ Stop lying, being coy or evading questions about age. However, should you feel people are being invasive when they ask, simply say, “I'll tell you my age if you tell me your adjusted gross income.” And smile.
▪ Stop brooding on the past.
▪ Stop playing hide-and-seek with yourself. Decide what’s worth your effort, loyalty, time and commitment. Take your hands away from your eyes and you might just be dazzled.
Gina Barreca is an English professor at the University of Connecticut and a Hartford Courant columnist.