God Invented Headphones Because Other People's Opinions Are Intolerable

And other answers to questions you didn’t ask.

“How can I deal with dudes constantly mansplaining things to me?” — Fed Up Betty

Image: Shiv Shankar Menon Palat

We all suffer tremendously, Betty, under the current proliferation of dudes. Bad opinions are at an all-time high and we’ve created so many delivery systems for them that we are constantly bombarding ourselves with less-than-hot takes. There are a million stories in the big city. And most of them are dudes trying to pontificate like Friedrich Schrietzche.

Is there something inherently insecure about males that makes them constantly have to prove themselves? Yes. In general, penises are small and only work for a few minutes at a time. We leave people generally unsatisfied, monstrously unfulfilled, and frequently preposterously frustrated. So the least we can do to distract from this is blabber away.

One of the biggest mistakes I make is thinking I can use both my smooth radio voice and my cereal-box charisma to smooth over any conversation. I will start sentences not knowing where they will end, hoping my dulcet vocal cords will do most of the heavy lifting. I’ve been told more than once that if I could just shut up for a second, I would get laid a lot more often. I just can’t shut up.

It’s a plague that has infected our entire age. The strong, silent type used to be the primary archetype for an admirable and heroic man. No one wanted a tweet from Batman, they wanted him to punch every criminal in the room. But since Reservoir Dogs and Tarantino’s regrettable take on Madonna’s “Like a Virgin,” the archetype has fallen upon tough times. Now, every dude wants to tell you their dumb life story, their bad take on Chewbacca and mansplain the latest episode of “Twin Peaks” to you. (Actually, that one could use a little mansplaining.)

Unless you have a doctorate and I am paying to listen to your opinions and then regurgitate them on to a midterm, shut up. No one asked for your opinion on Radiohead. That’s not why we’re all here getting drunk. Surely Bernie Sanders would have won, but there’s nothing we can do about that now. Mansplainers, we cannot take back our last 20 moves in the game of Geopolitical Candyland—that’s not how that game is played, even if you get to ride the Fudge Trail of Hegemony.

You mansplain because there is something wrong with you. You want to hear your own voice. And you want to feel important in a society that is clearly moving away from the opinions of straight white dudes and into the opinions of people we should be listening to. Imagine if white men spent the next 100 years just listening, after dominating all conversations for decades. And not in a “what amazing thing can I say next?” kind of listening way. In a real-real kind of way. I mansplain because I’m deeply nervous about any breaks in conversations at all. People make me nervous because everyone is smarter than me and I am pretty much faking my way through adulthood.

You know where mansplaining is the worst? Twitter! Do women do this “twitter thread” thing? I mean, my God. It’s the worst thing to happen to twitter since that shrugging emoji. I have never gotten past 3/ on one of those threads. Go back to 2003 and get a blog I can ignore.

What can we do to stop mansplainers? Maybe we should adopt those occupy Wall Street hand signals for real life conversations? Down magic hands for when sentences end in “brah.” Hands in X when anyone mentions Slavoj Žižek. Wrap it up hands when anyone mentions how great it will be when Trump is impeached.

Headphones work insanely well, even when they’re not on. I don’t even like music much. I might just get worksite sound ear muffs. Because people’s conversations are so annoying. They are never about me, and therefore are boring as fuck. People only want to hear about themselves! Not about you! Unless the you is about them! If people just suddenly put on headphones and turned away during conversations, I think mansplainers would get it.

It should be socially acceptable, from this moment on, to just walk up to someone and be like, “What you’re saying is terrible.” Maybe there could be a code word: Chrysanthemum! That sounds nice. And not in a mean way. Not in a judgey way. In a there’s-spinach-in-your-teeth way. No harm, no foul. We all only have so much time left in the world. We don’t have time for this bullshit and we don’t have time for you to verbally stroll through the weeds. It’s like you’re poking my brain with a turd. And you just have to stop.

But seriously. What was that “Twin Peaks” about? I just hope I wasn’t the only one who sat through the whole episode.

Jim Behrle lives in Jersey City, NJ and works at a bookstore.