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How To Be Unpopular  

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Being unpopular can prove to be a useful skill, and here we tell you about the uses of being unpopular and how to be very unpopular.

Suppose the responsible job of ruling the country needs filling. If you're really popular, you could find people recommending you for the job. Then you have responsibility, and get blamed when the country falls into financial ruin and Norman Lamont announces that he always knew that the country could be in a worse financial state than it was when he was Chancellor of the Exchequer.

If you are very unpopular and generally rated as being a [fill as required] it is unlikely that any such job will come your way unless we are trying to break diplomatic ties with every other person in the world by insulting them, their families, and everyone who has ever known them.

However, if you are choosing to rule a country which generally appears to need a dictator to stop everyone from fighting each other, being really seriously unpopular can be useful in getting the post, as then you aren't worrried about becoming any more unpopular than you already are. Then you can do what you want, until George W. Bush announces that you are a terrorist and allows the Israelis to attack you.

Unpopularity can also be used to avoid certain assignments. If you do not wish to risk being asked by your company to help make a sale, be unpopular. The company will not risk sending you for fear that you make yourselves unpopular with the client, prompting them to cancel their order. This unpopularity can be attained by various means, including yelling at co-workers, dropping work on other people, making your boss's life difficult, and a reputation for losing important sales for the company in previous years.

Unpopularity often comes hand in hand with people not trusting you. Popular people sometimes are trusted (a company clown is often an exception), but it is rare that an unpopular person will be trusted with anything - after all, you are probably unpopular for losing people's trust all the time by losing things, dropping other things, and mucking up yet more things. Therefore you will not be given any tasks which require responsibility, thereby ending deadlines, stress, any risk of being sued and, in extreme circumstances, your career.

There are certain careers which those wishing to be popular can avoid. Being a lawyer is worth avoiding for such people, particularly the moment when you present your bill to your client after an 18-month court case which they lost. Being a bank manager is also a popular one for being unpopular when you tell your client that, not only will you not extend their overdraft which they promised they'd repay when they won that court case that they've just lost, but you actually plan to foreclose on them and sell their house.

A career which can make you unpopular for ever more is running a major industry in the middle of a cost-cutting era. You are required to cut at least a third of the industry out, which means massive job cuts but you don't know what the real savings will be until afterwards. It rarely goes according to plan, very often the wrong bits get chopped off, and, whatever improvements you recommend on the savings, if the Government has to help put them through they won't happen. What's more, however much you think you did it in the only way that was possible, people still won't have forgotten you 40 years later for tearing the industry apart. Dr. Richard Beeching, Chairman of British Railways from 1960 to 1964, refurbished British Rail in this way in 1963. When the process finished in about 1970, one third of the rail network had gone, only four of the London terminuses were yet to be electrified (King's Cross, Marylebone, Paddington and St Pancras), the bottom line was about the same as that in 1963, and Beeching was hated by many people forever, for the "crime" of closing their lightly-used railway line. He was posthumously found guilty of wilful destruction of the rail network and sentenced to wait on Riccarton Junction for the next train - Riccarton is a remote abandoned platform on the former Carlisle to Edinburgh Waverley route with no public access.

This man, by example, has shown how to be very unpopular.

Becoming unpopular is very easy, even for saying what may appear to be nice things. A man, believed to have been born in Bethlehem, Israel, in 1 AD, said so many nice things that he became very unpopular with pretty much anyone with any power, especially for turning them and their market stands, banks etc. out of the temple and insisting that it should be used for worship. He was subsequently "nailed to a tree for saying how great it would be to be nice to people for a change" (Douglas Adams). He is so popular with the Jews that to this day they refuse to believe that he was a good person and have bricked up the gate through which he is allegedly due to eventually return to Jerusalem. So much for goodness and piety promoting popularity.

Going out of the way to be unpopular is not always a brilliant move. Certain people who attempt to be obnoxious and difficult find themselves laden down with friends. Other people who act vaguely grumpy, make sarcastic statements and rotten puns to annoy people, and refuse various reasonable and unreasonable requests find that half the people they walk past at work greet them with a cheery smile and the word "hi".

You should aim to become unpopular gradually. If you go to someone's funeral in bright clothing and tell jokes to the deceased's nearest relative they will, not unnaturally, come to dislike you. Going to a wedding and proclaiming loudly that it will all end in tears will probably bring down your popularity ratings quite a bit, particularly when it is followed by going to the divorce settlement six months later and proclaming in a louder voice "Told you it would all end in tears didn't I".

If you are really unpopular you can get cut off from the rest of humanity which means that stupid people don't want to talk to you. In order to get rid of stupid people you offer things which will not appeal to them. Things like fewer streetlamps (lower council tax, but stupid people won't know that) will make you unpopular if you are a councillor. You will become unpopular for suggesting blowing up the planet, despite the fact that it should guarantee World Peace. In actual fact even that drastic measure will somehow fail to solve the problem - to start with there will probably be a world war over who should survive when you were planning to kill everyone, and that will be followed by another war over how to go about blowing a planet up. You will become popular for committing a major robbery, so if you must rob a train and be unpopular you should beat up the driver - people won't like you for it. If you manage to become a major empire ruler who is subsequently beaten up by a former British colony (independent since 1783) after causing the deaths of millions of people you will be eternally unpopular with most people, except a few pseudo-historians, who will say that you never did anything wrong, that your actions can be justified, that you were actually good all along, and who will be locked up for publishing popular books putting across their point of view. Such people should be taken in your stride - not everyone will disagree with you.

Handing unpopular people over to the Government also can make you unpopular. The Bethlehem-born man mentioned above who got nailed to a tree was handed over to to authorities of Israel by a subordinate by the name of Judas Iscariot. Mr. Iscariot has subsequently not gone down very well in the popularity stakes - people are called "Judas" rather than "traitor" as it is taken to mean about the same thing. So many rude things have been said about him over the years that it is a wonder that the Estate of Judas Iscariot (who did what many would see as a decent thing for a good reward) is not constantly fighting several lawsuits for libel.

Between 1997 and 2007 the UK had a Prime Minister who did what he believed to be the Right Thing (British leaders have always done this and it never makes them popular. Ever. There are no exceptions). This unfortunate person who was only able to become Prime Minister because the previous leader of his party suddenly died subsequently declared war on one country, supported the invasion of two more, and fell below the popularity ratings of the Opposition. This took a very long time to occur because the Opposition had fallen off the bottom of the popularity charts. So if you do the Right Thing for the Good of the People you will become unpopular. You have been Warned.

Apart from that... you can become unpopular by various improvised methods. Perceived sexism, racism and anti-semitism can lead to unpopularity. So can terrorism. Murder is another popular way of being unpopular. If you get accused of one of these things, found guilty by the Sun, and then let off in the courts, the Public will continue to think that you are a mad guilty person who the justice system has mucked up on and needs to be re-tried and locked up - even if you are innocent. So that allows a few lucky people to become unpopular at no personal effort.

And there are many other ways too. Too many to list really. But the ultimate one which anyone can do quite easily....

Play your music very loud from 23:00 until 07:00, preventing anyone from getting to sleep. To have more effect, do this for an all-night party. Have all your guests leave with lots of horn-blowing and slamming doors.

You may subsequently be served with an ASBO preventing you from holding all-night parties.

Last modified 18/03/11

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