What’s The Worst Advice You Hear All The Time?

What’s The Worst Advice You Hear All The Time?

“What’s the worst common piece of advice you can think of?” Josie Duffy Rice asks on Twitter. For her, it’s this:

“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:

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:

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:

“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:

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:

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:

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:

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.


  • “My hottest take is that natural childbirth is the patriarchy in a feminist disguise,” Rice says. It’s a sad commentary on modern society that I can’t tell if this is a joke or if somebody honestly holds such a misguided and ignorant opinion…

  • “Write what you know”

    It’s a pity a lot of people misunderstand this. They think it means people are limiting their range and ability. However it couldn’t be further from the truth. Use what you know as the foundation of your stories, write about your personal experiences, your knowledge, your understandings, bring your heart and soul with your lifes obsessions, successes and failures into your stories, let it bleed through your characters and you’ll find that your writing will be all the more richer for it.

    Because those who decry the ideal of ‘write what you know’, think it means ‘only write what you know about’, when infact, it challenges people to go out, explore life, learn more, so that they can then write more of what they know.

    So by all means, write what you know.

    • I think the idea can be broken down more. First you don’t have to *just* write about what you know. If it did we’d never have good fantasy, sci-fi or horror fiction. However, even if you’re writing the most fantastical story putting in elements from your experience, ideas you’ve learned or ideals you espouse gives the story more depth. Terry Pratchetts books feel like that to me. As do a lot of other great authors works – King and Lansdale do it too, often the settings and characters while crazy are based strongly on the real world.

      Second, if you don’t know something (that’s knowable) then you should learn about it before writing about it. It’s one thing to make up a fictional country, it’s another to write about a real country and mess up it’s customs and cartography.

      • That’s exactly it. Write about horror, write about romance, write a thriller. When you’re writing it, think of yourself as just one of those characters, just one, and how you would react. Then, think of how other characters around you would react. Then, maybe you’d base characters off others you know. Because you know those people, you can apply it that way. Writing what you know, is incredibly expansive, it’s only ever limiting if you let it be 🙂

  • “Knowledge is power”
    If that were the case, librarians and system admins would be our new overlords. BOFH, anyone ?

    The other one is more of a prevailing attitude than phrase, and that is the fear of failure.
    Once we get past the Puritanical notion of being perfect all the time, it is quite liberating to put the emotional payload to one side, and analyse why something failed, in order to make it better.

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