Downtime

The Apparent Replacement for the New Year Resolution in 2023 Is Both Delightful and All Wrong

A green checkmark by matte makeup. A red X by a crocheted top. A green checkmark by a flip phone.
Innies and outies. Photo illustration by Slate. Photos by Amazon and Getty Images Plus.

Actress Tessa Thompson thinks sequins, dream journals, and radical honesty, among other things, are in for 2023. Singer Caroline Polachek says crochet, “claiming you’ve been copied,” and lip injections are out, but column skirts, matte eyeshadow, and “casual nudity” are in. Writer and Gen Z It Girl Rayne Fisher-Quann, meanwhile, pronounced “flip phones, sincerity, digging a hole in your backyard” in for the year ahead, as opposed to “polyamory, being mean, performative Catholicism,” all of which are out.

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Thompson et al. are just a few examples of the scores of people who posted personal in-and-out lists online in the last gasps of 2022 and early days of the new year, resulting in a dizzying array of edicts that would be impossible to follow in tandem even if you tried. For every list that declared FaceTiming out, another said that it was way in. I would say that the only thing that is for sure in right now is the in/out list, but then there’s also a chorus of people claiming that they, too, are out. We’ll ignore the even smaller group of people wondering what all of this has to do with a certain California fast-food chain.

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I’ve spent the last few days puzzling over these in-and-out lists, wondering why they seem to have replaced resolutions this year, at least among some of us. Have the in-and-out lists triumphed because resolutions seem too earnest and humorless for the irony-soaked times we’re living in? You’d think so from the number of times I saw “self-care” appear under the “out” column on various people’s lists. Indeed, one plus of the in-and-out format over the resolution, to my mind anyway, is that the resolution has no built-in component for throwing shade. Many in-and-out arbiters, meanwhile, clearly delighted in using the “out” side of their lists to ax-grind against, say, boutique fitness company Barry’s Bootcamp, or, more randomly, the entire concept of pajamas. Then again, the in-and-out format was sometimes conscripted into earnestness too: Thompson, for example, not only listed warm-and-fuzzy things like “asking for help” and “being given grace and giving it” as in for 2023, but also dispensed with the “out” half of her list altogether. The director Janicza Bravo, whom Thompson tagged in her Instagram post, did the same. Isn’t the whole fun of doing an “in” list so you can also do an “out” one? I’m sure someone somewhere included “judging others’ in-and-out lists” as totally out.

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We used to get in-and-out lists, and other memos about what is and isn’t cool, from the mainstream media, places like the Washington Post, which has been publishing its celebrated annual in-and-out list since the 1970s. Reading a collection of user-generated in-and-out lists, one might miss the editorial direction. The Post would never leave out the entire “out” section, for one. Rather than ins and outs separately, the Post also pairs each “out” with a specific “in,” resulting in one-two punches like this one from this year’s list: “out: pickleball, in: orthopedic surgery.” Random people you follow on Instagram aren’t quite putting that kind of thought into it. A badly curated list ends up just looking like someone trying to adjudicate their feelings. While I find hyper-specific vendettas and affinities just as amusing as the next person, the lists remind me of how hypercharged trend reporting has become in recent years. In 2021 and 2022, TikTok (and reporting about TikTok) drove so many so-called trends, especially in the realm of fashion, that declaring trends itself became a trend.

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So are the in/out lists supposed to be resolutions, or merely predictions in that vein? Everyone wants to be a tastemaker, and these lists give them a way to do that. As a commentary on the death spiral of media, I don’t love it. But if I can ignore that part and try to just enjoy people’s attempts at prophesying the future while revealing a little bit about themselves in the process, maybe I’m here for it. After all, are all of our lives not richer for knowing that Caroline Polachek thinks “IDing local flora & fauna” is in this year?

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