“New Year, New You!” the mediocre wit repeats between mouthfuls of diet pills. As the hung-over marketers of the world slowly recover from their holiday binges, hearing these words serves as a spot of joy as the blinding sun and their own throbbing heads betray them. A tagline that customers internalize is nice, but a tagline that customers mimic as if they came up with it themselves is a genuine branding miracle.
Playing against type, I’m not opposed to New Year’s Resolutions as a concept, or even particularly annoyed by the social media downpour. I pride myself on consistency. I can’t rail against America’s constant celebration of mediocrity in one breath and condemn the only holiday tradition geared towards self-improvement in the next. That’s a formula for stress, and my blood pressure is already close enough to making my heart imitate a hand grenade. Sure, most resolutions fail with the grace of a sumo wrestler on Quaaludes, but that’s less the fault of the tradition and more the fault of the average American’s paper-thin willpower.
My beef is specifically with January 2015’s catchphrase of choice among the braindead: New Year, New You. For brevity’s sake and the benefit of my amazing exploding heart, let’s ignore the fact that this was born in a self-help publisher’s boardroom. The cultural war against marketers was lost a generation ago, and we live in the low, low prices of the aftermath. There’s a more pressing issue. Regardless of how many copies of Binge Eat Yourself Skinny are sold, “New Year, New You” is a uniquely dangerous sentiment. When future civilizations ask when the decline of the talking apes became irreversible, their anthropologists will point to an amber-preserved selfie captioned “#NewYearNewYou. The hashtag that led to the rise of the mimics.
With a new Facebook-compatible toy released every week, it’s easy to forget the mimic scourge. A mimic can quietly replace a friend or family member, leaving a distracted family none the wiser until an inquisitorial squad storms the living room. Even under these conditions, the Inquisition has managed to stem the mimic tide, albeit at a steep cost in civilian life. But “New Year, New You” threatens to break the balance.
Normally, a failed resolution only leads to quiet shame and an overpriced treadmill collecting dust in the basement. #NewYearNewYou changes the stakes by creating a gamble with Nekros, the Blight with Five Thousand Faces. Under the terms of the pact, anyone that fails to meet their resolution is replaced with a mimic. In turn, the mimic slowly works to unravel the resolutions of their friends and family. To feed Nekros’s legion, mimics are known to send towering cheesecakes to dieters, give handles of Red Label to recovering alcoholics, and simply leave people intending to read more to their own devices. It’s currently unclear what happens to the originals, but the screams of the damned can be heard in quiet moments.
There are four options before us. The first is entering a new era of steadfast commitment to personal growth and responsibility. This will not work in the nation that invented powdered alcohol and the Double Down. The second is banning “New Year, New You” as an unspeakable term of eldritch power, but prohibition has a poor track record in any society. The third is surrendering to the mimic horde, and embracing the rule of Nekros. This is a fair choice if you’re only casually attached to your free will and immortal soul.
Our last and best choice is turning control of the government over to the Inquisition. May their blazing swords lead us into the future. Forced conscription might be unpleasant, but we just might live to see the next Hallmark Holiday.