The World of Unsolicited Advice

The World of Unsolicited Advice

A couple of weeks ago, I was listening to the ICYMI podcast. The topic was related to internet advice when the conversation veered specifically towards unsolicited advice.

Jenny Desmond: And I feel I feel badly saying this because I have the privilege of giving advice. Everyone wants to be heard and be listened to and feel useful. So maybe that’s what it comes down to, is that people okay, let’s do a generous read of it, right? People want to be helpful. People want to connect with others. People want to share the knowledge they have. That said, it is incredibly, incredibly annoying. Also, a lot of people are really bad at giving advice. So if it’s going to be unsolicited, at least make it helpful. If I were to go onto Twitter right now and say, Hey guys, does anyone know where I could get a great hamburger in San Diego? I would have 50 replies saying, Well, it’s actually in Texas, but go here or actually get a taco.

ICYMI – What Makes Online Advice Good?

Oh, lawd! This particular part of the conversation resonated with me. I have felt similarly over the years but haven’t found a good way to articulate it. It is in fact incredibly annoying when you share a part of your life, or ask a specific question and someone, who likely under the guise of trying to be helpful, derails, negates, or inadvertently diminishes your experience.

Me: Hey, I saw this cool thing!

Not Me: Yeah, that’s cool, I guess, but what I saw is EVEN COOLER!

Inner Me: Okay, uh, great. So… maybe you should just go ahead and share that on your blog, or whatever.

We are all likely guilty of this to varying degrees. But man, oh, man – I am going to try my best to not continue this type of behavior towards others.

2004 Chevy Corvette C5 Convertible in Millenium Yellow

About a year ago, I experienced something similar in offline life. Admittedly I hang on too tight to some things, but this still has me scratching my head about why someone felt compelled to communicate with me in this way.

I was filling up my car at the gas station on a sunny day. I’d been out bumming around, cruising with the top down, enjoying being alive. A guy pulled up to the pump next to mine, took a business card out of his center console and threw it into the passenger seat of my car.

“When you finally replace this with a new one, give me a call.”

And tell you to go fuck yourself? Sure!

The guy was a car salesman.

Something about this exchange just rubbed me the wrong way. I still view this person as a presumptuous dick. The whole shape of the brief exchange suggested that there is something “wrong” with what I have and that I should replace it. I don’t know how to interpret the sentiment with something other than what I see as judgement, or the application of someone else’s values onto me.

I happen to love my nearly 20-year old car! When I look at it, I think it’s beautiful, and ridiculously colored, and I feel quietly proud of it within myself. Plus, it’s super fun to drive. And perhaps most importantly it has immense sentimental value to me. (And gives me rockstar hair.)

Nikki Sixx called. He wants his hair back.

This exchange at the gas station seemed adjacent to unsolicited advice. I didn’t ask if anyone in the gas station was a car salesman who could help me in the future. Instead someone else’s unwelcome agenda was foisted on me.

In reality someone else’s opinions about my things, or my posts, or my rockstar hair really don’t matter. But, it doesn’t mean I won’t relish being annoyed 🙂

5 Replies to “The World of Unsolicited Advice”

  1. Thanks for the laugh and reminder this morning that I should beware of acting like a presumptuous dick. As far as the car goes, it’s a beauty. Yellow is just dazzling.

    I must add that you’re fortunate to be young and able to sport rock-star hair. As I near 70 with long hair, the wind has me sporting homeless-guy hair…

    1. People who are too well put together make me suspicious. 😉

      As 50 menaces me from around the corner, I think I’m firmly in the too old for that style camp, and possibly on the cusp of “crazy old lady.” But I feel strangely comfortable here and have no intention of quieting down any time soon 🙂

      High five from a fellow member of the wild hair, don’t care club.

  2. Nah; he was just being a car salesman. Kinda like fishing with a net. You cast it wide enough, and you’re bound to catch something.

  3. No one in the world is less *that guy* than Steve Williams. If Steve pulled at the adjacent pump, he would take ~2 gallons of premium and be gone before you even noticed. If you asked for advice, and if Steve felt fit to give it, only then would he. The odds are it would be a bright moment in your day.

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