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Thursday, April 3, 2014

The types of people who give advice on internet forums

Have you ever posted a question or asked for advice from a public internet forum? If not, you are missing out SO HARD.

No one on earth gives more insane advice than internet strangers with no stake in your situation. They will fill in any blanks in your story with bizarre, unfounded assumptions; they will give everyone in your story the personality of a Mexican soap opera character; and best of all, they will insist that you take actions that would be so out of proportion and ludicrous that your family and friends would involuntarily commit you to an asylum if you did what they recommended. And if you don't want to take their advice, well then screw you, you can rot in your terrible situation forever and don't whine to me about it, neither.

Without any further ado, here are my favorite types of internet advice-givers! (other than the people who actually give helpful, well-reasoned advice. I love these people for real, but they're not fun to laugh at so we'll just ignore them)

The person who thinks you're overreacting, no matter the situation

Even if you haven't taken any action yet, this person is here to tell you that you are being CRAZY and taking things way too far.

(I'm going to be using the Facebook template online for all my examples because it is the easiest way to showcase morons responding to things and I am lazy.)

Seriously, don't even CONSIDER taking action. Don't even consider CONSIDERING taking action. Don't have feelings about things. Stop it. You're overreacting.

The person who thinks you're NOT OVERREACTING ENOUGH, no matter the situation

Here's our friend "YOU ARE NOT REACTING ENOUGH" responding to the same thread:

I always wonder if people like this actually follow their own advice. "Ditch her; she sounds like a terrible friend." "Fire him; I would never stand for that from an employee who has never been a problem before." "Kill him; collect the insurance money."

Generally speaking, these two types of commenter will not really interact with each other, since they have no common ground whatsoever. So, it is up to
you to decide who to listen to -- is your husband 100% definitely cheating on you and you should divorce him immediately, or is he 100% definitely NOT cheating on you and you have serious jealousy problems that need to be addressed?? There is no middle ground. You have to choose.

The person who makes a completely overblown analogy that has no bearing on the situation

Whatever your problem is, rest assured, Bad Analogy is ready to give you incredibly dramatic advice on a completely different and unrelated situation that they've decided is pretty much the same as yours. Your little kid wants to play with an iPad? WOULD YOU LET HIM DRIVE YOUR CAR IF HE WANTED TO AS WELL? Mad that you have to keep your shoes in the closet so your dog doesn't eat them? WHAT IF YOUR DOG WAS EATING CHILDREN? WOULD THE SOLUTION BE TO JUST 'LOCK THEM IN CLOSETS SO HE CAN'T GET THEM'???

Yes, crazy person. Your analogies all hold up and I agree with every word.

The person who greases up a slippery slope to hell based on their own life

The only response I ever have to this person is something along the lines of "what in the actual f*** are you talking about."

You can recognize the Slippery Slope to Hell commenter because they always offer a disclaimer with their comment, which roughly translates to "this won't definitely happen to you the same way it happened to me, but I'd still peg the odds at above 85%."

The person who ignores everything that makes your life different from theirs

This person wouldn't know empathy if it drove a U-Haul truck through their living room window. They "put themselves in your shoes" in only the most literal way -- that is, they imagine that they themselves, with all their own life experiences, prejudices, and preferences, are in the same situation that you are in, and then just tell you what they would do or feel. Take a look:

So helpful!

Empathy is all about understanding the other person's actual feelings. Like, even when they're different from yours (SAY WHAAAAT??!). It's crazy and it can be hard, but it will also keep people from hating you. Try it sometime.

This is a good lead-in for my other favorite commenter, though:

The person who reads all the most insane advice and gets the idea that you've agreed to 100% of it

"ICan'tRead" is at least 75% of all internet commenters who arrive on scene past the first 10 or 20 comments. They skim the original post really quickly, then read the craziest advice and skip immediately to the bottom to beg, BEG you not to follow it. And then they lambaste you for even considering following it. They shriek about all the ways that following this insane advice is going to blow up in your face. They imply that you're a bad person and an idiot for planning to take such drastic action.

... action that you never once even remotely hinted that you were going to take.

Learn to f***ing read, idiots.

The person who has zero knowledge or experience with the situation but offers advice anyway

I can't get that mad at this person. At least they're just trying to help. It's actually sort of adorable.

The person who completely misunderstands the entire question

Sometimes I wonder if I have some sort of dyslexia that makes everything I write look correct to me, but look like total gobbledygook to everyone else. It's the only possible explanation for some of the comments I've received when asking for advice.

"This whole thread makes me sick" is my favorite thing that anyone can type into a comment box. It brightens my day, my week, and my year whenever I see it. Don't stop, people-who-are-made-sick-by-forum-threads. You keep doing you.

I don't even know how to respond to this person without being a snarky bitch because I just have so little patience for people who can't f***ing read. Your best bet is to just comment in choppy broken English all the time, because if I think it's not your native tongue then I'm much more likely to give you the benefit of the doubt when you completely misread something and then go off on me for it.

The person who gets distracted by something they find objectionable within the question itself, refusing to offer any advice until their grievance is addressed

Your objection has been noted.

The person who offers unsolicited advice on parts of your story that are just brief background, filling in all the details themselves

Three words are all this person needs to complete the entire story. "Mom has noticed" clearly means "Mom and I have had extended whispering conversations every time my sister leaves the room, which I'm sure she has noticed and is mad about. Mom has always been closer with me than with my sister, so my sister was already sensitive about this type of thing. You see, growing up, the two of us were very competitive, but ..." and on and on forever. I bet you never realized someone could get so much out of the phrase "Mom has noticed"!!! We're all learning something today.

There are more. There are so many more. But we'll just start with this.

And if you do any/all of these things, then I don't even know if I should tell you to stop or to keep doing it forever and ever until we all die. Because on the one hand, it's annoying, but on the other hand ... the internet just wouldn't be the same without it.

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