Winter survival lessons via the so-called ‘Internet’

‘Expert’ advice on making it through the season of late sunrises and early nightfall

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon and Richard Redditt

Photo illustration by Sarah MacKinnon and Richard Redditt

We’re getting deep now into the season of late sunrises and early nightfall, deep now into the month of November — or, as it’s known in my house: “No, you shut up.”

Perhaps you are experiencing similar domestic tension? Turns out the reduced number of daylight hours can prompt subtle changes in human behaviour. See if you can spot the nuanced distinctions in these examples:

1. Incident: Clogged sink.

Summer reaction: Purchase and use drain-clearing liquid.

Winter reaction: Weep uncontrollably for three hours; then go to bed.

2. Incident: Flat tire.

Summer reaction: Call roadside assistance.

Winter reaction: Abandon car and walk home to family. Abandon family and walk over to bar. Abandon sobriety and, later, pants.

See what I mean? Subtle changes.

Because I get paid by the word care deeply about you, I have scoured the so-called “Internet” for advice that will help you get through the season of gloom, possibly without biting anyone. The advice in bold is real and has actually been counselled by a medical professional and/or a Norwegian with WiFi.

Adopt a brighter outlook and ask, “Hello, Winter. What do you have to teach me, Winter?” Interesting approach, except for one small problem: Winter is an asshat. In fact, history suggests that winter mostly wants to teach us that by exposing ourselves to its darkness and cold each year, we have made some dubious life choices. It also seeks to teach us that snow pants sound hilarious.

Don’t eat a lot of sugar, even though you’ll want to. After typing the preceding sentence, I ate four Coffee Crisp bars from my kid’s “secret” Halloween candy stash that I accidentally discovered after searching for it for three hours.

Never eaten a guava? Why not try one this winter? Oh, hey, thanks for the super advice about the guava. The guava changed everything. I mean, there I was, despondent and glum, and then, whoa, guava. Can your amazing magical fruits help with my other issues? Perhaps you have a pear that cures bunions? Or a kiwi that counteracts sarcastic compliments WHICH IS WHAT THESE ARE.

Get enough sleep, but don’t get too much sleep and definitely don’t get too little sleep, although the specific parameters are difficult to calculate because people’s sleep needs vary, so, basically, just keep what you’re doing in terms of sleep unless you need to get more or less of it. I’m paraphrasing, obviously, but let’s not lose sight of the point here: the Internet— proudly providing contradictory health advice since 1991!

Think about all you have to look forward to come spring. There’s plenty to be excited about. Longer days. Having the feeling return to your fingers. Plus, Mountain Dew is testing a Dorito-flavoured beverage called Dewito. That’s going to spark a glut of food-flavoured beverages, possibly including Pringles-flavoured milk. They’ll probably call it Mingles! And then we won’t have to worry about climate change because we’ll all be dead!

Ingest a daily spoonful of cod liver oil. Nah.

If you realize that your spirits are beginning to sink, take pre-emptive action. What does that even mean? Should we launch a surprise attack on nightfall? AHA! Bet you didn’t expect to see us here in the gloaming but . . . SURPRISE FLASHLIGHT! We’ve got you now, nighttime! [Darkness continues to fall unabated.]

Consider taking up a fun new winter activity. The key word here is “consider.” Trust me on this one: There are a lot of terrific seasonal activities that are easy to come very close to doing. You can think about signing up for curling. You can express the intention to eventually go skating. I, for one, recommend buying cross-country skiing equipment, placing it in the garage and forgetting about it until spring, when you have to move it to get to the weed whacker. “We’ll definitely get some use out of these skis next winter,” you’ll say to yourself, lying.

Avoid binge-drinking. But you just told me to take up a fun new winter activity. MAKE UP YOUR MIND, INTERNET.

Try to wake up a teenager. I didn’t actually see this advice online, but trust me: It’s a great way to kill a couple hours and get that much closer to spring.


Scott Feschuk’s new book, The Future and Why We Should Avoid It, is now available in bookstores and online here and here.

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