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The Week That Everyone Gave Me Unsolicited, Condescending Advice

·877 words·5 mins

I don’t know what was up with people last week. Seriously.

I’m a very patient person, generally speaking. Even keel. A lot just rolls off my back. I try not to let things get to me.

But every now and then, there are these weeks when it seems like there’s a hidden theme. Like everyone got together and came up with a coordinated effort to do the same thing at once and left you out of the loop.

And the theme last week? “Let’s give out unsolicited, condescending advice for no reason.”

Seriously. Multiple people who are usually fairly cool — or at least harmless — leapt out of the woodwork last week and randomly commented on my personal social media shit in ways that frankly baffled me.

Non-Sequitur Rants & the Weird Humblebrag-Neg Combo

For example, I posted a selfie of myself. It had been a long time since I’d taken many pictures of myself, let alone posted one, but my mother had asked me to send her one, since I haven’t dyed my hair since the pandemic began, and she was curious to see how many gray hairs I had.

I knew she was probably going to laugh at me, since I’m a little Beverly Hillbillies at the moment, scruffy because I don’t go out too much, and usually all masked up when I do. But I figured she could use a good laugh, since life has been hard for her ever since my father passed away in April.

She surprised me though. Said it looked good and that I should post it to Facebook. So I did.

Anyway, out of the blue, one of my friends leapt in and started on a long rant about the most random shit. The whole thing was condescendingly worded. Or as another friend who read it so aptly said it, the comment was a “really weird humblebrag-neg combo.”

But it didn’t stop there. The same friend personally graced my posts several times, again with nonsequitur rants, in which they gave me random unsolicited advice and pseudo-wisdom that had little to nothing to do with what I’d actually posted.

And they weren’t the only one.

Again, it was like there was a secret theme. People kept popping up.

Looking for a Way to Be Helpful, Even If It Makes You Annoying

“What the hell is going on?” I asked a friend of mine.

“The pandemic makes people feel helpless,” he said. “And so they get depressed, and they are just looking for an opportunity to help other people. Unfortunately, they’re not really being helpful. They’re being annoying.”

“Hmm…” I said. Because it was an interesting idea.

“I bet if you go look at their feeds, they’re posting A LOT right now. Sharing things, lots of memes. More than normal. And the tone’s gonna be a lot more dramatic than normal.”

“You think?” I said.

“Yeah,” he said. “I bet.”

And I looked, and he was right. Huh.

I Learned Something Important About Myself

What a wild ride. Thankfully, this week seems to be a little better. If there’s a hidden theme, I haven’t figured out what it is yet. Which means it’s less annoying. Thank goodness.

Anyway, if nothing else, the experience taught me something interesting about myself: I am REALLY not that person who randomly comments on someone else’s shit with unsolicited advice.

Sure, I post essays on my website (and write articles for clients). I do updates on my professional and personal social media accounts.

But generally speaking, when it comes to other people’s stuff, I tend to lurk a lot (read without replying) and maybe press “like/love” or react. If I do comment, it’s usually with words of encouragement.

Outside of my job as an advice columnist, I pretty much never give advice. If close friends ask me specifically, I’ll typically weigh in. But only if they ask.

And even if I am around someone who is saying something wrong, I generally don’t correct them. Especially if we’re not terribly close and it’s not something that matters (very few things matter by the way).

And I certainly don’t waltz up to people who are right and “false correct” them, i.e., when you act like someone’s wrong and you’re correcting them about something but you’re just being more specific than they were. And the general thing they said was true. (Very basic example: “Hey, can you grab the blue book on the bench there?” “That book? That book’s navy. Not blue.”)

Or assume that they don’t know basic info, proffering it up as unsolicited advice that’s going to blow their minds.

It just ain’t me. Not even when I’m in depressed and in need of a win.

This might surprise some readers, who are used to my giving advice in a professional capacity. But there’s a world of difference between doing so for a general audience who opts in to your content and sidling up to people and dropping personal directives on them when they haven’t really indicated that they want them.

Anyway, I hadn’t really thought much about it, but the past week made me more consciously aware that I’m not that way.

And I’m willing to bet I’m not alone in this.


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