Thursday, December 31, 2009

I am a Kool-Aidaholic

My name is Tiffany. And I drank the Kool Aid.

Most recently it was the social media Kool Aid. But it goes back a lot further, starting with a junior high discovery of the Sex Pistols. I bought every album. I covered my walls in posters. I died my hair purple, bought combat boots, safety pinned my torn t-shirts and memorized every word of Sid & Nancy. I was punk drunk.

I can't remember all of the flavors and varieties that have since sent me reeling. (Which is probably for the best) This isn't to say that I am fickle, floating about from one shiny object to the next. I've been hooked on some for years. In fact, as a professional bartender, Hubby's is a particularly intoxicating blend that I plan to imbibe in copious amounts for years to come. Because not all Kool Aid is bad. So, how can you tell? That's a question I have been pondering a lot lately.

I am admittedly overzealous by nature, but I think that there a few factors that propel me into dizzy sugary gluttony:

- Peer pressure. I am a glutton for approval.
- The urge to belong. Who doesn't want to find a community of like-minded people?
- An innate passion and enthusiasm for the Kool Aid at hand. This is where it gets tricky.

I am a passionate and enthusiastic person. I get caught up. I get excited. But for every Hubby there are a thousand Sex Pistols. Don't follow? For every good flavor that will sustain you for years to come, there is another that will ultimately leave you with a bad case of heartburn.

I've decided on a few rules of thumb to keep myself in check and avoid sleepless nights.

1. Read the Ingredients
On the back of that Punk Rock Kool Aid package are a bunch of ingredients that still appeal to me. Non-conformity, rebellious spirit, questioning authority, propensity toward profanity, etc... But there are even more that don't. Anarchy, nihilism, loud noise, disdain for yuppie middle America. Turns out that while I will always identify with a certain counter culture ideology, those aren't the traits that define me. My high concentration ingredients don't match up.

2. Sip. Don't Gulp.
Oh, moderation, you cruel beast. I am more of the "Gimme more! Gimme more! Nom, nom, nom." excessive type. Screw the sample cup, I'll take a gallon. But, if you gulp, you miss the nuances of each individual ingredients, both good and bad. And I find myself asking, what's the rush? Slow down. Savor the flavor.

3. Step Away from the Spokesmodel.
Who doesn't love the Kool Aid Man? He's smiley. He's friendly and fun. And...he has no depth. He's a mascot. Over the past 75 years he's changed dramatically to suit the current trends. He shifts based on popular consumer opinion-likely sourced from shopping mall focus groups. Basically, he is a cleverly crafted character created to manipulate you into buying what he is selling. Think used car salesman, but with cartoon charisma. Ah, charisma. I am a sucker for charisma. Flash me grin, give me a compliment and I will gladly buy your neon orange Pinto. Did I say "will?" I meant "would." The jig is up. Go sell crazy elsewhere.

4. Serve to Friends.
Best case scenario, your BFF loves it, asks for a crate and you blissfully discover yet another common interest. But, if BFF takes one sip and spits it out, take note. Now, defend away. To each her own. By no means succumb to peer pressure. It's true that some things are worth fighting for. But, if you find yourself regularly fighting your trusted circle, you have to think that maybe they have a point. Step outside of the fishbowl and get some feedback. It will help you hone in on the faults in your arguments and potential save you from hazardous allergic reactions.

5. Create Your Own Ratio
I love me some social media Kool Aid. Bring on the pitcher! But lately, I've noticed that high concentration leads to negative side effects, so I am tweaking the formula. One part professional, one part personal, then dilute. Don't be afraid to mix. A dash of Sex Pistols here, a dash of Community there. Variety is the spice of life and you might stumble upon an incredible new combination.

So, there you have it. My shopper beware Kool Aid guidelines. Posted mostly entirely to keep Yours Truly from making poor decisions. Added Bonus: I am now comfortable knowing that I have triumphantly beat a metaphor into submission.


*Gulp* (Damn. Baby steps.)

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