“What’s the worst common piece of advice you can think of?” Josie Duffy Rice asks on Twitter. For her, it’s this:
WAIT OKAY the worst piece of advice ever is "you should have a natural childbirth"
— josie duffy rice (@jduffyrice) December 2, 2018
“My hottest take is that natural childbirth is the patriarchy in a feminist disguise,” Rice says. (As the father of a newborn, I see her point!) Twitter users add their own. Here’s my favourite:
“You’re perfect just the way you are.” Nah, son. We are all trash and could do better. And “everything will work out in the end” cuz the universe is chaos, just embrace it.
— Rebecca Salley (@rebsals) December 2, 2018
While I don’t believe in the Christian doctrine of original sin, there’s a reason it’s so compelling: even if there’s no God judging us, that doesn’t make us perfect without trying. Being a good person takes work.
Aaron Fullerton calls out the dumbest piece of writing advice:
“Write what you know.”
— Aaron Fullerton (@AaronFullerton) December 3, 2018
Absolutely. “Write what you know” is nearly meaningless unless it’s unpacked like a zen koan. It’s much more useful to advise a writer to, say, read a lot, or dig under the surface of their assumptions, or seek out new experiences.
The famous internet poet Jonny Sun names what didn’t inevitably lead to his success:
"if you keep quiet and keep your head down and just work hard, people will notice you and reward that" that's how you get taken advantage of and also perpetuates the myth of meritocracy!!
— jonny sun (@jonnysun) December 2, 2018
“I lost so many years doing work and not advocating for myself and then being upset that nobody noticed/acknowledged me or my work,” he adds. Self-marketing can be excruciating and anxiety-inducing, but it’s just as valuable and “real” as actually making things.
We’re shredding every vapid thing that’s ever been typed in a hand-letter font over a filtered photo of distant mountaintops:
That you have to hit some miraculous threshold of “self love” to finally be able to love someone else/have them love you. Also, that if you stop looking for someone, you’ll find a partner.
— Jasmine (@jasminej_i) December 2, 2018
Right? What would the logic of that advice be? Have you really never met a happy couple who got together while at least one of them was a mess?
The next one is especially insidious, as some form of it creeps into all advice about self-realisation:
“Live each day as if it were your last.” MFer if this was my last day on earth do you think I’d be unclogging the damn shower drain
— Alex Mclevy (@alexm247) December 2, 2018
Again, this advice pretends that truly happy people never do anything they don’t want to do. Your last day on earth is not an appropriate rubric for the rest of your life. Ben Franklin put it better: “Work as if you were to live a hundred years. Pray as if you were to die tomorrow.”
Not to get furious at what’s basically a slogan for café wall decals, but this philosophy has become a way to punish anyone with real responsibilities. It sets up a false dichotomy between those “normal” lives and some sort of Casey Neistat “do what you love every day” manic-pixie life, by narrowing the definition of a fulfilling life. Don’t let it make you feel bad for, say, getting a job that lets you save for retirement.
Thank you, next:
“Don’t go to bed angry” it actively discourages people from taking space to process a conflict
— Dominique Matti (@mominiquematti) December 2, 2018
This is one of those aphorisms contradicted by another aphorism: “Don’t fight when you’re tired.” That’s because it’s not easy! Fights aren’t solved with lines from BrainyQuote! Some people do better solving conflicts immediately, some do better after some rest, and you have to negotiate that.
If the other party is elsewhere, you need to calm your racing thoughts. Try writing them down, and think through the consequences of the conflict. Ask yourself, if I solved this today vs. tomorrow, what difference would that make in a week or a year?
If the other party is the person you sleep with, you need to talk a little about the scale of the conflict. Often, they’re more ready to rest because they’re less worried about the direction of the conflict. Find some level you can agree on: this fight isn’t a breakup; this fight isn’t going to change your dynamic forever; this fight is similar to one you’ve had before, so you know it’s possible to end it.
OK, last one:
“Enjoy every minute” for new parents. Too. Much. Pressure.
— Brianna Liestman (@BriannaLiestman) December 3, 2018
Ahahahaha imagine giving that advice after hearing any baby cry, ever.
Read the rest of this Twitter thread and enjoy the catharsis of everyone collectively calling bullshit on terrible advice.