Anyone who knows me knows how much I love to hate shitty advice, so today, I’m going to talk about a few types of shitty advice that I have gotten over the years. I’m pretty sure almost everybody identifies with at least some of this, so let’s have a laugh and raise a glass to shitty advice.
Shitty Baby Boomer Advice
I love this one so much that at my old job, a few friends and I had almost a weekly ritual of talking about shitty baby boomer advice for millennials such as ourselves. This includes things like, “College shouldn’t be free! I earned my tuition by working construction on the weekends!” or “You’re broke because you have smart phones!” or even “You’re just so entitled. You need to learn to live with less.”
That job was the epitome of a shitty millennial situation. We were all college grads with degrees in really good fields, being totally exploited by a government agency that staffed us in contract positions. We did everything the permanent employees did. We just got paid less, no benefits, and could be terminated on a whim. It ends happily for us because after less than a year there, we all managed to find permanent government jobs that treat us a lot better, but we lived the shitty millennial economy for long enough to get a taste of how too many people of our generation are living. On the positive side, when you’ve seriously contemplated asking the boss if you can work Christmas because you can’t afford to lose the hours, getting a federal holiday off with pay will probably forever feel like magic. It certainly does to me. So does being able to get sick and not have to come to work. For a generation often accused of being entitled, we sure are grateful for a lot of things our parents took for granted.
For some reason, people in my generation don’t look to baby boomers as if we’re struggling, when we are. Maybe we’ve gotten so good at passing as functional adults under the most ridiculous of circumstances so our baby boomer bosses will take us seriously enough to hire us, that it’s actually working against us. Why yes, that’s me in my thrift store clothes, heating my leftover beans and rice in the microwave at work, and looking like every other person here… You have no idea that I owe my parents money, my student loans are killing me, my car needs repairs, and if my kids’ father doesn’t catch up on his back child support soon, we’re screwed.
I give you the impression that I am fine because I can’t afford not to. You give me shitty advice because you don’t look below the surface. My whole outfit cost less than your lunch. My phone cost less than the VCR you bought in 1985 when you were my age. My apartment, on the other hand, cost me more this year than five years of the mortgage of the house you bought during the best housing market in history, and paid off when I was 10 years old.
At the risk of sounding too serious for too long, I’ll end this part with a particularly awesome piece of shitty baby boomer advice that I’ll probably never forget. I was exhausted, and happened to lament that I hadn’t had a day off in years, saw no break on the horizon, and didn’t know how I was going to keep this up. A baby boomer family friend said, “Well then take a break! You act as if life is all about working. No dying person wishes they’d worked more hours.” This person apparently missed the fact that I was, and am, incredibly passionate about keeping a roof over my head, so taking a break was really not an option at that point in time. And this, my friends, is why we love to hate shitty baby boomer advice!
Shitty Obvious Advice
Have you ever mentioned some issue that you had, and someone gave you some advice that makes you wonder what gave them the impression that you are the stupidest person alive? If you say, for example, “Ugh… if I don’t get my child support soon, I have no idea how I’m going to pay this upcoming daycare bill.” And some person replies, “Well, you really should structure your finances so that you don’t need child support, and it’s just a bonus when you do get it.” Do they really think that never occurred to anybody? Oh hey, thanks for the advice, dude! I’ll go harvest some more 20’s off my money tree on the balcony and call it good. It never occurred to me to just not need the money I’m due for the purpose it’s intended. I wonder if a landlord would like that advice. “Have you ever considered structuring your finances so that you don’t need your tenants to pay rent, and it’s just a nice bonus if you do receive it?”
One major time this type of advice makes its appearance is in parenting. You say, “My kid is driving me nuts. He’s being fucking relentless today.” And some genius says, “Well, say no.” Wow, thank you! I haven’t done that 85 times in as many minutes or anything. Thank you for your brilliant advice to say no. I had never thought of that. Instead, try “Kids are really pretty awful sometimes. Let’s ditch these little bastards with a babysitter and go drink margaritas somewhere that nobody else is allowed to bring their kids and ruin our fun.” That always goes over better.
The poor are also on the receiving end of a ton of shitty obvious advice. “Just get another job”, “Just save money”, “Just make your coffee at home instead of buying Starbucks” (because all poor people buy tons of Starbucks, right?), “Just live within your means”. You name it. I think aside from parents, poor people take the booby prize for highest volume of shitty advice received in any given time period.
Shitty Fashion Advice
This is completely subjective, and that means that in somebody’s opinion, we’ve all given shitty fashion advice before! This is a mutual situation between us and the rest of the world, just in case anybody thought they were immune from giving other people shitty advice.
My favorite type of shitty fashion advice falls into the category of not answering the question that was asked. For example, if I say, “What shoes go with this dress?” and you answer, “That dress belongs in the trash.” That’s shitty advice. Now, if I asked you what you thought of the dress, it’s not, but that wasn’t the question.
Here’s an example. Not so long ago, I purchased a piece of clothing from a certain brand which does not allow returns nor have a brick and mortar store to go try things on, and I tried really hard to convince myself that I liked this article of clothing, but try as I may, I hated it. I felt stupid wearing it. I usually wear very fitted things, and this felt like a frumpy bathrobe, which is awesome for after a bath, but not awesome for work, or a slightly formal event after work. In desperation, I asked on a group devoted to that brand of clothing how a thin girl such as me might wear that article of clothing without it completely engulfing me in its bathrobeness. There were a couple of tips that were horrible but at least answered the question. (No, dude… I’m not going to walk around with a knot in my shirt because I’m a working professional, not a teenager from the 80’s, and I’m going to a nice event after work, not a barbecue in a barn.) Far more people, though, simply said, “Oh, it looks wonderful! I can’t believe you don’t like it! Just wear it!” No, dude. I will not just wear it. I just told you it feels like a bathrobe. Would you wear a bathrobe to work? OK, maybe you would, but I wouldn’t. Answer the question or move along.
The other category of shitty fashion advice goes right along with that. The false platitude might be the worst one yet because it gives people the wrong idea. If I ask how I look, and I look like a busted can of biscuits, I expect you to make sure I don’t leave the house like that. If someone asks you how they look, it’s your duty to actually tell them if something is majorly wrong. To say it’s great when it’s not is textbook shitty advice.
Then there’s always that person who has horrendous taste in everything, but thinks you need in on all of it. I’m not sure if they give shitty advice or good comedy. Maybe it’s both.
Shitty advice is all around us, and it’s good for a laugh after the initial reaction wears off. The fact is, we all love to hate shitty advice, so take it in, laugh about it, and give it right back to the people who gave it to you. It’s only fair. Until we meet again, stop spending money you don’t have on Starbucks, try to live in such a way that your paycheck is a nice bonus, tie a knot in your shirt, and pay your way through college by working construction on the weekend!