8 things I have never done that you probably have (now with the much-requested rationales behind each)

Yesterday I posted about six (which expanded to seven and then eight) fairly ubiquitous things that I have never done that most people have.

I was asked to explain my rationale on these issues many times. I will do so here:

1. I have never purchased a lottery ticket.

This is simply a matter of playing the odds. I have a better chance of being elected President (fact) than winning Powerball. As a poker player, I only play hands that give me a realistic chance to win. The lottery does not provide realistic odds.

2. I have never taken a selfie.

I think the selfie is kind of stupid. I have never wanted a photograph of myself unless I required one for professional reason. 

It's also important to note that I define a selfie as a photo of oneself. Add my children into a photo and I am no longer taking a selfie. I rarely take these photos either, but I have taken a few.

3. I have never used an emoji.

As a writer, I prefer words. There may come a day when I feel differently, but not today.  

4. I have never yelled at my children in anger or frustration.

In the words of my good friend, as an elementary school teacher for more than 17 years, I have a well of patience. I don't yell at students in school. I don't yell at my children at home.

So far at least.

I'm also a naturally calm person. It takes a lot to upset me. A childhood of verbal confrontations with an evil stepfather taught me to remain calm and rationale whenever possible. I learned that the person who shouts is oftentimes the person who will lose the argument or at least most likely to appear foolish and unhinged.  

In our dozen years together, my wife has seen me lose my temper once. It was the result of traffic on the interchange between I-684 and I-84. For a few moments, I lost my mind.

Rather than firing cannonballs when I am angry, I prefer to lurk beneath the surface of the water like a submarine, quiet and deadly, listening carefully and waiting for the perfect moment to strike.

For the record, I don't think Elysha has ever yelled at our children in anger, either.

5. I have never used an illegal drug.

There were many opportunities for me to experiment with illegal drugs throughout my life, but since I was 18 years-old, I have been on my own, operating without a safety net. I was poor, unemployed, homeless, the victim of violent crime, and arrested and tried for a crime I did not commit. For my entire adult life, I have felt like I was walking on a tightrope, in danger of falling off at any moment. I still feel this way today. 

Whenever the pressure or desire to experiment with an illegal drug arose, I thought about how difficult my life already was, how precarious my position has always been, and how I couldn't afford any more trouble. Thus I was able to avoid experimenting with drugs even once. 

6. I have never consumed even an ounce of coffee.

I have avoided coffee for several reasons: 

  • I saw how miserable my parents could be before their first cup of coffee in the morning. I didn't want my mood to ever be dictated by the consumption of a drink. 
  • I suffered for years with teachers who had horrendous coffee breath. I never wanted my breath to smell even close to this horror show. 
  • I don't like hot drinks of any kind.
  • I've always found the coffee making and drinking process complicated, time consuming, inexact, and oftentimes treated far too preciously for my taste. I have always embraced simplicity. Speed. Minimalism. Coffee is anything but these things. 

7. I've never activated cruise control in an automobile.

I've always felt that if you're going to drive the car, then drive the damn thing. Steering wheel and pedals and all. I've always viewed cruise control as a device specifically designed to reduce the driver's level of engagement, which has always struck me as both dangerous and lazy.

8. I've never smoked tobacco of any kind.

Smoking kills. It says it on the package. It also makes you smell and look terrible. I never found anything appealing about it. Avoiding it has been a no-brainer, despite the fact that more than half of all Americans have tried smoking at least once in their lifetimes.

Malcolm Gladwell on shorter attention spans, inherent unfairness, and the selfie.

From an interview with Malcolm Gladwell in The Guardian comes a few of his more interesting comments:

I don’t know why people think attention spans are getting shorter. Thirty years ago, you could go and get a sandwich in the middle of a Kojak episode, come back and still follow it. Today, if you get a glass of water in the middle of Homeland you have to pause and go back.


Running teaches you about the inherent unfairness of the world. Two people can work exactly the same, in fact, one can be infinitely more devoted and train much harder and not do as well. An object lesson in how unfair life is.

On a personal note, the inability to acceptance that life is inherently unfair seems to be one of the greatest stumbling blocks in people’s lives and the reason why so many fail to realize their dreams. I rarely receive more pushback from readers than when I write about this. 

Gladwell also prefers the selfie when someone who has recognized him request a photo, mostly because it’s quicker to take a selfie than get a third party involved to take the picture.

I’m not so sure about this opinion, mostly because I almost never get recognized, and when I do, no one wants a photo with me.

This short film presents a situation that is both ridiculous and reality. And that scares the hell out of me.

It’s astounding how rapidly the selfie and social media have interlocked to become a ubiquitous, ingrained, and inexplicably accepted aspect of American culture.


Does a film like this awaken people to the lunacy of their social media existences, or are they unable to see themselves for who they have become?

ASPIRATIONAL from Matthew Frost on Vimeo.

My 3 completely biased, overly judgmental and fully valid rules of selfies

  1. Try to avoid saying the word selfie aloud. You will always sound at least a little dumb when doing so. Even writing the word makes you sound a little stupid.
  2. Any attempt to look sexy or alluring in a selfie is only going to make you look a little desperate. This includes pursed lips, well framed cleavage and obvious attempts to conceal large noses, receding hairlines or oblong chins through awkward and strained poses. We all know what you are doing. Spontaneity, a disregard for photogenic conventions and  an authentic smile is the only way to make a selfie almost acceptable.
  3. A selfie is only immune to ridicule and assumed narcissism under the following circumstances:
  • You are taking a selfie with another person in the photograph as well (which, by definition, no longer qualifies as a selfie).
  • You are taking a selfie in order to show someone a new haircut, a new item of clothing or a similar change of appearance (the utilitarian selfie).
  • You are taking a selfie with the express purpose of demonstrating the uniqueness of your locale as it appears the background (Grand Canyon, Brooklyn Bridge, football stadium, North Pole)
  • You are taking a selfie in order to update your image on a social media or similar online profile, and you have not updated the image in this profile in at least three months.

Below is a blurry, poorly framed selfie that I took of myself and my daughter this weekend as we rode the historic carousel in downtown Hartford together, thus qualifying it as acceptable in two of the above categories.