Drink Like a Man

Alcohol has become an ugly thing. Instead of nursing a glass of fine cognac or Sauvignon blanc while discussing the important affairs of the day, we go on pub crawls where we drink cheap beer and make complete asses of ourselves. Perhaps it’s an after effect of American prohibition but to so many now drinking is not seen as something classy but inherently boorish and irresponsible. I’m going to delve inside what it means to drink like a man. 

Keep Your Wits About You 

Stoicism and composure are among the most manly virtues but too much drink can destroy them both. Everyone has a limit when it comes to alcohol and it’s entirely your responsibility not to exceed it. Never drink to the point that your dignity is in danger. If you’re starting to act more boorish than is appropriate, it’s time to stop drinking.

Respect Your Responsibilities

Sometimes you’ll find yourself in the presence of adult refreshments but still have responsibilities, like hosting or driving. In those cases your responsibilities come first. You don’t have to completely abstain but you need to still be able to meet those responsibilities. 

Plan to Get Home Safe

You often hear about the need to plan a safe ride home when you drink, and I wholeheartedly agree with that assertion. Your choice as to whether or not you drink must never effect your chances of getting home safely. It doesn’t matter what your plan is, so long as it keeps you safe. Just don’t rely on anyone else unless you’re absolutely certain it won’t cause any problems. 

Drink for the Enjoyment of the Beverage

Most people now choose to drink for the intoxicant effect of alcohol, but that couldn’t be much less manly. A man drinks to enjoy the taste of the beverage and the camaraderie those around him. When someone drinks to get drunk they tend to drink the cheap stuff, that pretty much tastes like turpentine, but when you drink for the enjoyment of it you soon discover the bold and intricate flavours of quality libations. There’s only one way to find drinks you truly enjoy. 

Learn About It

What’s the difference between Canadian and Tennessee whiskey? What is a session ale? Where are the best wines made? These are the kinds of questions you can answer if you educate yourself a little. Even better, you’ll find yourself more appreciative of the qualities of your drink if you understand the intricacies that went into making it and will open up a new topic of conversation. 

Avoid Drinking Alone

If your wife greets you with a martini at the end of a hard day or you like to sit down with a cigar and a glass of scotch to reflect at the end of the week, that’s fine but drinking should be primarily social. Never be the only one drinking at a social function never go out to drink unless you’ll be with friends. 

It’s Fine to be a Teetotaler 

Whether it’s you or someone else who chooses not to drink, it’s a perfectly acceptable and manly choice. You must respect and even endorse their choice. Never push drinks on anyone, especially your date. If you choose not to drink and you have a considerate host, you’ll still have some delicious drink options.

Conclusion

Drinking like a man really comes down to two words, drink responsibly. If the only lasting effect of a night of drinking is the memory of a delightful evening, you drank like a man.

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Funerals: The Most Somber of Somber Occasions

Cemetery

Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

Slave or King, rich or poor, good or evil, death eventually comes for us all. There’s no getting around it. Our families die. Our friends die. Our heroes die. We die. It’s not something we like to think about but it’s an inevitability. We will all face death. We will all lose those we love. Despite the inevitability of them, we rarely discuss funerals. 

Funerals are a part of every culture, although they may vary extensively. Death is an irrevocable change so we all must come to terms with it when it happens. A funeral may be chance to commiserate a loss or celebrate a life. 

Funerary Customs

Every culture, sub-culture, and religion has funerary customs, such as the black veils of Latin America, the twenty-one gun salute of military funerals, and the Jewish use of stones. Before attending a funeral you’ll want to familiarise yourself with those customs. A distant family member is usually the best place to start. They’ll likely be familiar with the customs but won’t be too busy or distraught to help you. You can also feel free to incorporate customs from your own culture so long as they don’t conflict in any way with the family’s. You’re also exempt from any customs that run contrary to your own beliefs and are under no obligation to sacrifice your own needs. 

From this point on I’ll be writing from a purely North American Christian perspective. If anything conflicts with your own customs, then your customs are right. 

How to Dress

Funerals are part of why you should have multiple suits. Funerals are best kept an informal affair, but custom certainly trumps that. Typically a man should wear black suit, preferably with a white shirt and black tie. Pocket are completely acceptable but be sure to leave all the cheery colours and flamboyant patterns at home. Also, be sure to remove your hat in the church and at the gravesite. 

Ladies should wear simple black outfits. Again, leave the cheery colours and flamboyant patterns at home. A funeral is also an excellent place to break out a hat with a veil. There’s no need for ladies to ever remove their hats. 

It’s only appropriate to wear uniforms at military, police, or firefighter funerals, and even then only if you are or once wear a part of such an organisation. There’s no need to remove uniform headdress at the gravesite but it should still be taken off in the church. 

Itinerary

Like many events, funerals have a traditional itinerary. They usually start with a viewing the night before. This is a casual service that’s open to the public but usually attended only by those who were particularly close to the deceased or their family. A second family viewing is often held immediately before the service. The former is typically at a funeral home and the latter is usually at the church. 

The main component of a funeral is the service. The service usually takes place at the deceased’ church or at the gravesite. If the main service is at a church then there’s usually a second shorter service at the grave. The deceased’ religious views are usually very appparent at the service and can even be a full church service. Regardless of the church, conduct yourself appropriately for a visitor there. When the gravesite is some distance from the church, mourners travel to the grave in a ceremonial procession. 

Funerals will commonly end with a simple meal. To many, it’s the beginning of life without the deceased. It’s a good time to catch up with friends and family, and share give your condolences to the family. It’s also the time when a funeral ceases to be somber. 

Procession

The typical funeral procession is led by the hearse and includes all the mourners driving at slow speeds. The vehicles generally have their hazard lights turned on so other motorists know that they’re part of a funeral procession. It used to be the norm to turn on the headlights but, with the prevalence of daytime running lights, this is no longer effective. 

Wakes

In some western cultures it’s common for funerals to celebrate the deceased’s life more than mourn their passing. This usually takes the form of a party. In those cases, the etiquette of a similar party held some other purpose applies. 

Sympathy Notes

If you can’t attend a funeral or don’t get a chance to speak with the family, then you may want to send them a sympathy note. Actually writing the note has plenty of its own etiquette but it should always be hand written and sent or delivered within a few days of the funeral. If you deliver it in person, don’t expect an invitation to come in. Grieving people often feel asocial and you need to respect that. 

Future Remembrance

Few people deserve to be forgotten. The good should be venerated forever and the evil should remain a cautionary tale. Consider attending an All Saints Day service and possibly visiting the grave periodically. 

Should We Drop Social Media to Move Over to Personal Blogs?

Not too long ago I wrote an article about how we’re isolated by our modern communication. Today, I’m going to talk about a possible way to be more connected within the internet world, using personal blogs in place of most of social media. 

What Do I Mean By “Personal Blogs?”

Before I can discuss personal blogs I have to define them. I don’t mean a blog with one but rather a blog about the author, a running autobiography if you will. A personal blog is populated with news about the author’s life and their musings on life, published for no reason but to be of interest to others. It does not intend to teach or promote an ideology. This is not a personal blog, although I do have one.

The Audience

Social media usually has a huge and varied audience. It’s almost impossible to write for them because they’re all looking for something different. The only thing they all have in common is they prefer the superficial over the meaningful. 

Blogs, on the other hand, will typically have smaller more interested audiences. If someone goes to the trouble of following your blog, they probably have a genuine interest in your life. They’re most likely looking for the more serious news about your life. In all likelihood, only your inner circle will ever read your personal blog.

The Publishers

When you login to Facebook or twitter the first thing you see is a bloated newsfeed, full of trivialities of no real significance. You likely follow dozens, hundreds, or even thousands, and few of them are posting anything important. So you end up wading through a sea of nonsense to find something you care about or going to their profiles, which are essentially superficial blogs. 

The very nature of blogs means you’ll only follow the ones you care about. You won’t follow the blog of someone you barely spoke to in high school, and not once since. 

The Message

Social media pushes us towards brief messages. Posts tend to be a few lines of text or maybe a couple of images or a short video. It doesn’t really give you the chance to discuss anything in depth. 

Blogs are equally suited to long and short posts. You can write posts that are only one sentence or a hundred thousand words. If you only want to be superficial that’s fine, but you can also describe every detail of an event in your life or rant about whatever you feel passionate about. 

Conclusion

Social media and blogs both have their place. Social media is great for keeping up with your outer circle, you only want superficial news from them anyway. A blog is better for sharing news with your inner circle, since it’s all about thorough posts and devoted followers. 

If you’re ready to start your own personal blog, WordPress and Blogger are two excellent free options, or you can look for a lesser known option that’s better suited to your need or even get one custom made.

Escape the Isolation of Modern Connection

We’ve ended up in a weird situation. We’re more connected than ever before yet we’ve become more isolated. We don’t share our troubles anymore because all we can expect to get back are empty platitudes. Why is that, and what can we do about it?

We’ve Traded Depth of Relationships for Breadth

Studies have suggested that we can only maintain a limited number of relationships without formal structure.1 The exact number has been debated but consensus and anecdotal evidence imply that it’s far below the thousands of friends that seems to be people’s goal on social media. “Dunbar’s number,” as it’s commonly called in academic circles, is about what used to be people’s “inner circle,” the group of people we tended to get to know quite well. With the advent of social media, we’ve largely lost our inner circles and only have “outer circles,” the people we interact with regularly but never get to know on any meaningful level. We need that distinction to properly budget the time and energy needed to build and maintain relationships. 

Anonymity Breeds Incivility

This one doesn’t need any studies to support it. We’ve all seen the internet comment sections that start with benign trivialities and general immaturity then quickly devolve into irrelevant personal attacks, unfounded accusations, and ultimately unrelated hate speech. Now, why do people act like this? The anonymity insulates them from the consequences. The forum has become more public than ever but the audience comes from outside our own communities and we’re welcome to wear masks. 

It’s like a Canadian donning a disguise and going to Speakers’ Corner in London’s Hyde Park. He can say whatever he wants and avoid any consequence. As soon as he takes off his disguise and goes home nobody even knows he said anything.

Extreme Views Get Equal Attention

Without the filter that’s created by risking one’s reputation, the extreme views come out en masse. There’s now no reason not to openly support injustice, since you’ll be able to go on as though nothing was ever said. 

Much of the Message is Lost

Many people believe that 93% of communication is non-verbal. This isn’t actually true but it brings up a good point, our words are only part of our message. In some cases, non-verbal communication is even crucial. Consider these examples;

Example 1:

I go to my local mechanic hoping to have him fix a problem that’s beyond my abilities. He asks what kind of car it is. I reply, “2004 Mini Cooper.”

In this case, all the information he needs is conveyed by my words. 

Example 2:

A guy approaches a woman in a bar and greets her. She replies, “Hi.”

In this case, her words carry almost none of the message. She may want him to leave her alone or, if she’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, she may have just decided to marry this stranger. Most likely her message is somewhere in between. 

Conclusion

I’ve presented how modern communication isolates but not yet what to do about. The first thing is to prioritise face-to-face interactions where it’ll be easier to build deeper relationships. Second, don’t put any stock in anything you find online, unless it seems a real person’s reputation is staked on it, it’s well sourced, or based in logic. 


1. Dunbar, R. I. M. (1992). “Neocortex size as a constraint on group size in primates”. Journal of Human Evolution. 22 (6): 469–493. doi:10.1016/0047-2484(92)90081-J.


Taboo Topics: Things a Man Must Never Discuss


Editor’s note: As an etiquette guide, this article is based on opinion. It’s goal is to create a standard.

There have always been certain topics that were unacceptable in polite conversation, but these days that principle is often ignored. This doesn’t mean that any opinion is off limits, nor should the matter at hand be ignored to avoid an impolite topic. 

Why to Avoid Taboo Topics 

Many of these taboo topics are very likely to cause offence or create unnecessary conflict. Even the ones that aren’t are too heavy for most conversations. 

Topics to Avoid

Money

Obviously, it’s fine to discuss how you’re going to split the bill but it isn’t the okay to take it much further. Finances are inherently irrelevant beyond the cost of the activities of the day, and many feel inescapably judged by anyone who just learned about their economic situation. If you know someone is struggling with poverty it might be okay to bring it up to offer your help, but tread lightly. 

(Un)employment

When someone’s unemployed they usually want people to look past it and treat them with dignity. The unemployed and underemployed are unfairly stereotyped so bringing it up is likely to be construed as an insult. Even the employed may not be comfortable discussing work, so don’t force it. 

“Talking Shop”

“Talking shop” tends to alienate people from the conversation. Nobody wants to be forced to listen to a conversation they don’t expect to be able to contribute to. Also, if you get caught up talking shop you won’t be able to mingle. 

Politics & Religion

These are among the most divisive issues, and most people feel very strongly about them. That’s exactly why these topics should be reserved for groups that already agree. 

Personal Problems

Anyone who’s going through any kind of personal problem will likely not want to talk about. Keep quiet unless they bring it up. 

Other Uncomfortable Topics

Every topic becomes instantly taboo if anyone in the room is uncomfortable with it. If someone seems to be uncomfortable, change the topic immediately.