Make a resolution to ignore New Year’s propaganda this January

Ryan Ehrhart, Page Designer/Co-Opinion Editor

In the last few years, a lot of us have developed a certain distaste for New Year’s celebrations. While it was nice to throw 2020 out, there wasn’t much thrill last January to ring in what many felt would just be the unasked–for sequel. There was a noticeable lack of thrill on NYE 2020—shocking, considering that the celebration featured a countdown that was an advertisement for Kia along with Planet Fitness air dancers all over Times Square.

One thing that makes New Year’s extra dismal is the annual social demand to craft a resolution — a firm decision to do or not do something. Nearly all studies show that the most common resolutions always have something to do with losing weight or improving diets. A simple look at Google Trends will show you how searches like “diet” and “weight loss” reliably skyrocket every January.

Something that’s commonplace in January is to click on a random YouTube video and be instantly greeted with an ad with someone contorting their stomach, immediately followed by someone preaching the moral evils of rice or some other benign ingredient. Executives from the biggest diet companies are very open about the fact that they ramp up their advertising budgets every January. The way that corporations — especially the $72 billion diet industry — meet the people’s fleeting demand to improve themselves is what makes New Year’s so awful.

I use the diet companies as only one example, because it’s the most obvious one; plenty of other health and wellness, self help and productivity related brands also try to pick up new customers during this time. We’re taught by companies and media to feel constantly insecure about ourselves from a young age, and New Year’s is happy hour for the corpocratic system to prey on our misery. In effect, “New Year’s” as a holiday spans the whole month of January.

I find it funny how we often will have conversations about how various holidays “have become commercialized,” but we never bat an eye at the corporately-manipulated nightmare that is New Year’s: a whole month during which we let companies exploit our insecurities and convince us that they have what we need. That we want what they have. That they can fulfill us.

That’s what the whole thing is about — feeling fulfilled – and I find it unfortunate that we put so much cultural emphasis on finding fulfillment for less than 30 days at the behest of corporations. The resolution I’ll be making for the rest of my life is to never make a resolution at New Year’s again.

I encourage you to do the same, and to focus on doing things that will better yourself and improve your life just as much in July and September as on Jan. 1. It’s far more rewarding to do fulfilling things on your own terms rather than when you’re being forced to. Let the desire to improve yourself be intrinsic, not mandatory, and let the resolutions goals you make throughout the year be as rewarding as they should be.

The New Year’s we know today creates a culture of mass guilt and insecurity that is ceremoniously disguised as optimism and motivation, and that’s a culture I implore you to reject.