Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Every man should

"Should" is a dangerous word. "Should" implies an obligation or duty, though to what or whom is often unstated. As such, I'm often bemused when I see these supposed articles online that claim to tell me the "XX Things Every Man Should Have". This 40-strong paean to masculine consumption from Buzzfeed is just the latest example.

If you don't want to give them the clicks -- and why would you? -- this is the list: tailored black suit, black dress shoes, brown dress shoes, stocks, tool kit, nice wallet, cologne, watch, proper bed with proper bedding, flashlight, duct tape, weekend bag, proper glassware, grooming kit, double-hinged wine key, multiple towels, chef's knife, passport, flask, sewing kit, umbrella, ironing board and iron, jumper cables, undershirts, playing cards, lint roller, leatherman, sunglasses, record player, sporting equipment, French press, good socks, good underwear, cast-iron skillet, multiple sheet sets, bar set, matching dishes, decent car, solid book collection, decent bottle of booze.

According to the airtight, in-no-way-subjective estimation of author Justin Abarca, I am only 9/40ths of a man and lacking self-respect -- and even then only if what's on my Kindle counts as a "solid book collection" and my 14-year-old prescription shades tick the "sunglasses" box. Most of this cavalcade of foofery is pointless to me as I don't drink alcohol or coffee, and lugging that much stuff as I move to another part of the world every other year (on average) would just be a pain. Do articles such as these serve any purpose other than to encourage impressionable men with expendable income to buy things? How do they benefit? Some such articles have links to where you can buy the items mentioned and thus may receive a cut of any sales generated, but the Buzzfeed one doesn't, at least as far as I can tell.

Then there are all the different permutations and interpretations of what every man should own. These are just examples from the first two pages of a [search engine of choice] query. Take note of who's hosting these articles.

Esquire: 31 Thing Every Man Should Own (beware: slideshow)

Men's Health: 12 things every man should own

Art of Manliness: Five Things Every Man SHOULD Own

Gentlemen's List: Seven Things Every Man Should Own

The Gentleman's Corner: Things Every Man Should Own

Man Made DIY: Ten Things Every Man Should Own -- winter edition, spring edition, summer edition and fall edition

Vogue: 15 things Tom Ford thinks every man should have

Examiner: 50 things every man should have

PolicyMic: Ten Things Every Man Needs Before He's 30

The Frisky: 30 Things Every Man Should Have By 30

Business Insider: 15 Items Every Man Needs in His Kitchen

Business Insider: Nine Accessories Every Guy Should Have in His Bachelor Pad

All that took about 30 seconds of searching. A man could go broke and lose his home trying to keep up with all the assorted knick-knacks he's supposed to cram into it.

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