I Hate Advice Posts
Every time I spend more than 3 minutes on Medium, I feel like the world’s biggest failure. And that I’m lazy and bad and if I just keep clicking and skimming, I’ll eventually become successful and rich and happy and loved. Wherever you look, there are people promising they know the secret to sales, the secret to pitching a story, the secret to freelancing, the secret to finding love.
In my mind, I know most of it is bullshit that we’re scraping together for content. I know that at least half of these posts are recycling the same tired advice I’ve heard a thousand times before. I know most of the people writing it don’t live more successful, fulfilled lives than I do. But I also know that advice posts are the bedrock of digital content. No matter what industry you’re in, it’s all about providing value.
The trouble is almost anything valuable can’t really be related in 600 words you wrote before doing 80 minutes on your Peloton and then going to work, where you only check your email twice a day, but also answer every asinine comment on everything you’re ever written.
In my experience, the big important lessons come through the accumulation of experience. They come through hindsight. They come through doing the wrong thing over and over again until my thick skull cracks and an inkling of insight begins poking in like sunshine finally penetrating the blackout curtains that some blogger told me made them more focused, stronger, and better at sex.
And I bet you know that, too. We keep buying these posts like lottery tickets, hoping that sooner or later, one of our endless clicks will reveal some life-changing tidbit that fixes whatever we know is wrong with us (or that some blogger has convinced us is wrong with us). We know it’s bullshit, but we keep reading because we want to believe the answers are out there. We want the snake oil to be the elixir of life.
Every one of these advice posts is promising us some glorious after-self that doesn’t struggle and feel confused and wonder if they’re doing everything wrong. But scrolling through an endless queue of half-assed “how-tos” does nothing but keep us clicking, keep us reading. As a writer and digital marketer, maybe I should see that as a good thing. As a human, it makes me want to rip out my eyeballs and throw them in the blender that totally changed that one woman’s life by revolutionizing her breakfast routine.
Here’s another complication that makes me feel like I’m doing it all wrong. I hope a lot of other people feel this way. And I hope they read this post and clap and I make some money through Medium. I’m hoping to profit on the same relatability and feelings of being out of the loop that all these advice posts offer.
The only differentiator? My big secret is that the big secrets don’t do much. The big secrets are right in front of our faces and we only see them when we get to it. You learn things when you’re ready to. You change when you decide to. Life gets better slowly, in small ways. And then it gets worse, in both big and small ways. And then you keep trying, because it’s that or death.
Sorry, did that get too dark?
Maybe this will help: we’re all stumbling through this darkness together, like a mob of hungry zombies reaching for some substance to put inside ourselves. I don’t have the answers and neither do you and neither do any of the other writers on here. So don’t feel bad if you don’t want to keep scrolling or you feel like none of it’s getting through and making a difference.
Of course it’s not — it was never supposed to. It was only supposed to fill space and get views. Just like this post.