Monday 20 January 2020

Art of the show-off


'There's something about getting a plane...'
'There's something about getting a plane...'
Princess Eugenie
President Michael D Higgins with Mark Hamill
Mark Francis
Donald Trump
Vogue Williams

It's a competitive world out there, and the rules have changed. You haven't a hope of succeeding in things like a career or dating, if you don't engage in a spot of shameless self-promotion. Don't worry if you don't think you're up to it it, Pat Fitzpatrick is here to lead you through the minefield of blowing your own trumpet.

We need to talk about shame

This is no longer the case, and your average Irish person can manage a seven for brashness, on a scale of zero to Kardashian. We don't know precisely when Irish people discovered self-confidence, but the research suggests it was around the time we started drinking shots on a night out.

But what if you are one of those people with legacy shame, as it's known? What does life hold, if you a look at social-media influencers and wonder, "How do they do it?"

It mainly holds losing your job to a robot and your boyfriend leaving you because you averaged less than four Instagram posts a day. Sorry, but that's the way things are now.

So, how can you be more like the influencer? It's easy enough. Here's the truth about how all those famous influencers deal with shame. They don't. They feel and dislike shame as much as the rest of us. But they don't dislike it as much as they love getting free moisturiser to plug on Snapchat. So be like the influencers, and learn to love free stuff more than life itself. 

Celeb selfies

Vogue Williams

It's known as the multiplier effect. One day you have 300 followers. Then you post a selfie holding Vogue Williams (pictured above) in what looks like a headlock. The next day, you have 3,000 followers. That means you are 10 times the person you were yesterday. (There is no other way of looking at it.)

The golden rule here is don't grab a male for your selfie. If we've learned anything from #MeToo, it's that today's Mr Showbiz is tomorrow's Mr Taking Some Time Away from the Limelight and Googling Media Opportunities in Dubai. And there's a photo of you with him, giving a big thumbs-up to the camera. #NotAGreatLook

So, sticking with female celebs - who to choose? The bad news is there's no future in hounding someone from the regular telly, because the demographic that still watches TV won't be around for much longer. (We all know it's true.) The good news is Netflix and HBO will shortly shoot all their blockbuster, world-famous shows in Ireland, because we'd do anything to become an extra. Bear in mind some of these will be shot in the North, so you might have to queue at the Border, thanks to Brexit. Speaking of thanks-to-Brexit, one euro will be worth five quid sterling by the end of next year, so any chance you could bring us back a case of wine from Sainsbury's? 

Raise awareness

There's a new c-word in the English language. Charity. You can't say it in polite company. The correct term now is 'raising awareness'. You can't be criticised for raising awareness - it's a brilliant self-promotion tool, if you have the slightest talent for fake sincerity. (We all have it in us, just keep digging.) There are, however, certain limits to this awareness lark.

Look at Belle Gibson. She's the young Australian woman who raised awareness for cancer sufferers by claiming a particular type of diet had helped her cure the disease. Unfortunately, two pesky journalists raised awareness that she made it all up and didn't hand over money that was raised for charity. The judge fined her 410,000 Australian dollars. So, if you have an awareness-raising tale, just make sure it's a distant relative of the truth.

You men out there need to be careful. Let's just say there is a new awareness around raising awareness. Particularly if it's an all-male event, where 20-year-old students in short black dresses are paid to hold your hand. If you are lured to one of these events, the trick is to leave early, and put a post on Twitter to say you couldn't believe your eyes at the carry-on. (And hope no one notices you were at this grabfest last year, and stayed to the bitter end.)

Despite Ryanair's best efforts, people still seem to think there is something glamorous about getting on a plane. For further proof, just search Facebook for 'map showing flight route posted by my needy friend'.

A couple of things on the Look at Me, I Got On a Plane front. The first is the airport really matters.

Nobody on the make ever admits they just landed in Luton - if it isn't Heathrow or London City, keep your phone in your pocket.

The reason you took the flight matters even more. It's not enough to say it's for work, because we've all travelled for work at this stage. That mainly involves sitting in a room in a hotel by the M25 while a some guy called Josh gets us to role-play telling a colleague she needs to do something about her body odour.

You need to be on your way to an event. Even if this is a work-related conference, you need to get a selfie with that 21st-Century rock-star, also known as 'a founder'. If you don't know what a founder is, then a robot already has your job. (It's a white male graduate of an Ivy League college who somehow managed to succeed in business, against all the odds. Don't say this to him until you get the selfie.) 

Name drops keep falling on my head


There I was talking to Stormzy (pictured above) when Elon Musk butted in and said, 'You can't beat a bit of bullshit name-dropping'. That said, you need to be very careful whose name you drop.

A certain class of person is going around announcing they expect to get a wedding invite from Princess Eugenie (pictured right). There are two problems here. The first issue is 78pc of Irish people refer to her as 'Princess Who?' The second issue is the remaining 22pc pronounce her name as You-Jeen-ie. That's actually wrong. The correct way, according to the princess herself, should sound like Use Your Knees. (Seriously.) We'll never get the royals' names right. (William is actually pronounced Wilhelm, by people in the know.)

Don't bother name-dropping Irish celebs. Everyone has met Marty Morrissey by now; there's nothing to be gained there. Also, name-dropping locals leaves you wide open to the British Celeb Counter-Drop. Here is how that works. You say you got a call from Kathryn Thomas. Your rival says she got a selfie with a minor character from Hollyoaks on Grafton Street. Your rival wins. That's just how it works. None of our lads can compete with a British celeb. They're just that bit shinier. 

Don't put you down

For all our newfound brashness, we still have a tendency to put ourselves down. In fact, the definition of a cocky Irish person is someone who only has a minor anxiety attack when they get a compliment. The rest of us end up shouting, "Jesus, would you stop, I'm a worthless piece of shit". This doesn't go down well with our Silicon Valley Robot Overlords, so you need to change your ways. (I'd like to say you are a brilliant person and more than capable of doing this, but you'll probably start sweating with the stress.)

Don't worry, the people who make up phrases on the internet are here to help. It turns out that putting yourself down in public has a new name - self-bullying. Seriously, if you keep this up, you will have to call yourself out for bullying, and then apologise to yourself on Twitter, before leaving the limelight for six months to reflect on your actions and Google opportunities in Dubai. No one wants that on their conscience. (Or CV.)

Just because you stop putting yourself down doesn't mean you have the do a full McGregor (pictured right). The truth is most Irish people don't really like him, but are afraid to say so, because we're all supposed to be post-begrudgery now. 

Hey, stupid

There's a lot to be said for playing the eejit. Particularly when you find something that drives people crazy, post that on social media, and then let others share it, thus promoting you around the world. You will know you have struck gold on this front when you see the sharers using the magic three words - posted without comment.

This means the exact opposite of what it says. The sharer here has a very clear comment, which is that you are stupid. (He has taken the time to spread your carefully crafted work all over the internet. And you're supposed to be the stupid one.)

I have three words for anyone who thinks pretending to be stupid will never get you anywhere in life - President Donald Trump. Obviously the trick is to get a 'posted without comment' share without suggesting it's ok to grab people by the genitals, or start a nuclear war. The easiest people to target for this are food Nazis. They are self-righteous, and furious with the hunger, because they only had an avocado for lunch. They also have loads of needy followers because people think if they eat properly, they might live forever.

So, at around 2.30pm, put: "Am I the only one who doesn't like kimchi?" on all your social-media channels, and tag any food Nazis you know. Now, you wait. There it is, 'posted without comment'. There's another one. And another; getting close to viral now.

The net result. Five foodies enjoy a smug moment for themselves. And 100,000 strangers think you have a sense of humour. Excellent. You're on your way. 

The lingo

Mark Francis

There is nothing to be gained from talking like a middle-class person.

You can choose to go up or down the social scale. The first route is called Doing a Saoirse. This is where you speak with an alarming Dublin accent, as if you just drank a potion called A Lirra Birra Liberties. (Another way to achieve this is to imagine you are being played by Twink in the story of your life.) This establishes you as a down-to-earth type who wouldn't dream of blowing your own trumpet, you know what I'm sayin', wha? The irony here is that you are trying to escape from the lower orders and live in the K Club, surrounded by rich sophisticates. (And Brian Ormond.)

Alternatively, you could go super posh. (Think Mark-Francis (pictured above) from Made In Chelsea, crossed with Jacob Rees-Mogg. Just don't think about the actual crossing process.) The trick is to completely over-egg your standing in life, in the hope that wealth will follow. The good news is this will drive your followers bonkers with aspiration and envy. The bad news is the inevitable burglars will be furious when they break into your house and learn that it's two rooms full of moisturiser samples.


President Michael D Higgins with Mark Hamill

Merely liking stuff doesn't cut it any more. You need to love something to the point of obsession. Which is another way of saying you need to be a superfan. There was a time when superfan was a form of insult, given that it's shorthand for 'Friendless person who keeps trying to contact Taylor Swift via direct message'.

That was then. Now it marks you out as a nerdy obsessive, and in case you haven't noticed, these people rule the world now. Your best bet is to let everyone know you are a Star Wars superfan. Ok, it cuts down your potential sexual partners by 99pc, but our Nerdy Overlords love Star Wars, and the cast pretty much lives in Ireland now, anyway, so it will save you a fortune on flights.

Here's something to bear in mind, though, before you decide to stalk Mark Hamill (pictured left, with Michael D) around Dingle in the R2-D2 costume you bought in Dealz. There is such a thing as superfan karma. What goes around comes around, so be careful unless you want a superfan of your own, sleeping in his car outside your house for a fortnight. (Or maybe that's exactly what you want. It certainly beats being ignored.)

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