How many times does the word "should" appear on your social media feed each day? Articles telling you how you should act if you're a woman, a man, if you're straight or gay.
What you should do before you're 25, where you should go, how you should bring up your children - you should breastfeed, but never in public; you should work hard for the 'perfect' body, but you should never show too much of it. You should want to get married and if you don't, then, why? You should behave a certain way at a certain time in your life.
Out of a sense of morbid curiosity, I delved into these ground-breaking guides to come up with the ultimate list for a much improved life:
- You should never ever ever ever eat sugar. Seriously, it's poisonous and makes you fat. Stay. Away.
- You should drink wine every day. Which kind of conflicts with number one. Can you get sugar-free wine?
- You should stay away from sugar-free food. It's poisonous and makes you fat. AND depressed.
- You should strike that perfect balance between being confident enough but not too much - you probably won't get a husband if you have too many opinions.
- You should speak your mind, stand up to bullies, don't let anyone push you around.
- You should have sex with the guy whose name came up when you did that fun game where you pick a colour and a number and his star sign is exactly the right one for you. Even if you don't know him, or he's your bosses son, or you already have a boyfriend. You should definitely go for it.
- You should never EVER have a futon or temporary furniture in your house. Even if you're living there temporarily, or you like futons, perhaps you have a thing for Japanese culture. But no! The list has spoken. And as for TV stands, uh uh. Big no no.
- You should stop wearing skirts when you reach 50. Unless they're a very specific type of skirt prescribed by the over 50s fashion doctor. Regardless of how fit, youthful and down-right smoking hot you are. Or if you just like wearing them. Skirts be gone.
- You should be on Facebook. Let's be honest, how can anyone trust someone who doesn't want their whole life to be public? How do you keep track of your wild nights out? Or your boyfriend's lads on tour weekend? How do you stalk your ex??
- You should be drinking more coffee. Even if you don't actually like coffee because it tastes kind of bitter and gives you the jitters and makes it very hard to concentrate on your work.
- You should read every day - regardless of how much free time you have or how much you enjoy reading. Everyone knows the best, smartest, most effective people at being people read like all the time.
- You should never visit Wales - seriously, random blogger number one went there and he hated it, probably because it was wet and he has a phobia of sheep and now he's here to tell you that you should NEVER go there.
- You should eat five pieces of fruit a day - oh wait, now it's six, which must have been really annoying for the fruit and veg manufacturers who have to change all their stickers. Oh well, the science of should has spoken.
- You shouldn't talk too much about your travels in case other people around you feel uncomfortable.
- You should travel as far and wide and long and fast as you possibly can. If you can find a beach populated by other English speaking people and have a massive piss-up while dancing to the moon, that's really the thing you should do.
- You should tell your kids about sex but not too soon. The best time to tell them is somewhere between the ages of 8 and 18. But you shouldn't decide that for yourself based on your child's personality and ability to process this information. You should let Dr Phil or someone tell you exactly when you should have "the talk".
- You should sleep naked because your partner will like you more and it could prevent diabetes and that's what people used to do before they invented pjs.
- You should never eat a bacon sandwich. Seriously, step away from the frying pan. Something terrible is about to happen.
- You should be a specific size and if you deviate too much either way, you should be apologetic of it and desperate to change. You should want to be someone else.
- You should stop reading list articles telling you what you should do. Because they're not written by the oracle of the untrodden future but rather by random bloggers, most of whom, just like me and just like you, have absolutely no real clue what they should and should not do.