Early January is always the worst time of the year. In fact, the first Monday of January is historically known as the most depressing day on the calendar, and this first week has been especially rough on America, with a polar vortex sucking everyone's souls into its wintery spin.
But a handful of lucky people were granted a reprieve from the January doldrums this week, by winning meaningless, arbitrary awards designed to tell the world that they've made it! Sorry. You weren't one of them. And it sucks. (Don't worry, neither were we.)
The humblebrag-fest began in earnest when Forbes published its annual "30 Under 30" list of the 30 most impressive, young, photogenic people who are doing cool things you either are too old or too lazy to be doing yourself. Except it was actually around 450 people since Forbes made a list for 15 different categories (and some duos and groups were awarded a single spot), just to make sure even more people feel left out. Unless you are one of those 450 people who made it, in which case, congrats! You can stop reading now.
And "under 30" really doesn't mean 27 to 29 — some of those who made the cut are as young as 15. The list was very carefully put together by a team of experts who are also super successful and winning at life.
Forbes top picks include beautiful, terrifying people like Olivia Wilde (just 29); Maria Sharapova (ranked 4th in the world for tennis at 26); and Evan Spiegel, who came up with the (maybe) billion-dollar idea of Snapchat at 23. You probably don't even know how to download Snapchat, because you're old.
What does it take to make a "30 Under 30" list? Not much if Valleywag's assessment of 22-year-old CEO Lucas Duplan ("30 Under 30 in Tech") is to be believed. They've spent quite a bit of 2013 pointing out that the founder of secret mobile payment app Clinkle isn't actually that good at his job:
Just because a round of venture capitalists decided 22-year-old Lucas Duplan deserved $25 million to build this pile of vaporware, doesn't mean his ballooning staff agrees: according to the dispatch, a staggering 31 employees have already dropped out. That's a huge number for something that's so small and does so little.
So maybe your career isn't as hot as all that, but your love life is probably okay, right? Think again. Just as we were coming to terms with having failed to have even been nominated for the "30 Under 30" spots, the New York Observer published its annual list of successful and madly in love media "power couples." Not only have these 30 pairs — married, engaged or dating — climbed to the top of the media world, they've also found a soulmate to master the universe with.
The Observer helpfully provides us with "cute details" that definitely aren't making anyone feel any warmer. Dana Goldstein and Andrei Scheinkman, for example, were both on the 2011 Power Bachelor/Bachelorette list before they met and started dating. Now they're engaged! Oh, how their cup runneth over. Another "cute detail," about everyone's favorite morning TV couple Brian Stelter and Jamie Shupak, is that "everything about this couple is a cute detail." Oh, and Beth and Howard Stern have four rescue cats because Beth is an animal advocate, even though Howard is a germaphobe. Okay, we kind of like that one, but mostly because it makes Howard seem more neurotic and now we know he lives in a house full of cats.
At this point, you're probably thinking that these beautiful, successful people are trying to make you feel bad on purpose. Well, a study published in Psychological Science says that, yep... they are definitely trying make you feel bad on purpose. Research says that smug couples like to lord their relationships over the singles, because it makes them feel better about themselves. Discover magazine has more:
When people in romantic relationships felt it would be difficult to end those relationships, they were more likely to endorse statements such as “Individuals who are in long-term romantic relationships generally have more meaningful, fulfilling lives than those who are not.”
This specific type of insecurity is called "normative idealization," and is a pretty transparent form of "I will make myself feel better about myself, by putting you down." You know, like in high school. Or the internet.
But truly smart people know that these lists don't mean much. You probably prefer more intellectual pursuits... like arguing over who is the most intellectual person you know. Ta-Nehisi Coates of The Atlantic declared MSNBC's Melissa Harris-Perry to be "America's foremost public intellectual" this week, which isn't even an award category, but still got people riled up. Or we should say, Dylan Byers of Politico got people riled up when he questioned MHP's credentials.
Ta-Nehisi Coates's claim that "Melissa Harris-Perry is America's foremost public intellectual" sort of undermines his intellectual cred, no?— Dylan Byers (@DylanByers) January 7, 2014
Before continuing the “America’s foremost public intellectual” debate, consider who is the public. The public of punditry is not the public.— Sarah Kendzior (@sarahkendzior) January 7, 2014
The most important lesson to take away from all of this: Whoever "America’s foremost public intellectual" is... it isn't you. Surely that person would have a hot boyfriend or girlfriend and is probably only 25, anyway.
But you know what guys, it's okay, because you're not crazy. The internet really is out to get you this (and every) other week of the year. Good luck with those resolutions, loser.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.