Well meaning advice is out there in abundance these days. I had been waiting to write on the epidemic of abundance that the human species is facing right now, and the reason no one is talking about. Abundance comes in many forms, this is just on top of my mind today, so here we goo…
Everywhere you look these days, on LinkedIn (my favourite), Blog posts, Instagram and the likes, there is loads of advice. The content that gets the most engagement these days: advice on how to do stuff. Professional, personal, financial and the likes. A lot of shouldisms are floating on the internet:
- Should do deep work
- Should constantly learn on the job
- Should focus on long term instead of short term
- Should not get anxiety
- Should get up early
- Should do this before age x and that before age y
- Should care for everyone/everyone’s view point around you 😛 (Controversially put in)
- Should say should 5 times a day
Please add on to this list in the comments, cause you shoulddd 😂
Human beings like to know things in advance. It’s not something we have started to do today. Crystal balls, Card reading by parrots, Griha-Nakshatra are not things of the 21st century. We want to know how the path we are taking is like, how do we get happier than we are today, how to survive college and then the job that you take after that. We just want to know. [Demand]
Then there are shamans, who know their ways around a spirit or two. The good thing? not everyone is a shaman. Only [1 or 2] So you need to travel in the depths of the Amazon rainforest to find one and get your practice started. You would become a seeker, travel through the rough and when you see the Shaman probably say “Oh Shaman, I believe in what you do, and I want to experience a reality which I know not. What SHOULD I do to be able to witness it?” [Supply]
There was always a scarcity of intelligent, well read, experienced people and to solicit responses from them was tough. The Demand was the same, supply was precariously low. Social media is having none of it, sadly. The equation had always been: Supply for good advice/advice <<< Demand for it
The tables have turned. Now whether you want it or not, everywhere you look, from the morning Whatsapp story, the Twitter thread to the LinkedIn post, unsolicited advice is everywhere. And when there is a lot of supply usually the quality deteriorates. USUALLY.
But why am I talking about it? Why is it an epidemic? Is it not good that everyone has something to tell you?
Humans like to be saviours (dusro ki sahayta se pehle khud mask lagaye), love to convince others to be more like themselves. They like to make copies, and groups with similar ideologies. Unsolicited advice is a very good tool to do this. Disguised as seemingly intelligent content, creators are now seeping in their narratives about their favourite things through the “shoulds”. This could have a serious effect on you if you are not immune to leaving random pieces of thoughts outside your head. Everyone finds happiness, success and pleasure in various different things in life. It is quite absurd to templatise it and make it a list of things to do for others.
Give neither salt not advice, until you are asked for it.Good Advice on the internet
Just digging deeper to understand, why are we such compulsive advice givers,
- Feel better about Myself: Whenever I find myself advising someone on some big life crisis which I myself would have miserably failed at, I feel good 😔 Its a cool creative thing to do, a narrative to play in my head, like that of a simulation game-role playing game, except I will come out of the game as soon as the action packed core discussion ends, but the other person will have to live through the situation, god frobid keeping in mind with what I asked them to do. But I certainly do feel good about giving advice. Its a feeling of pride, feeling of superiority and a feeling of “yesss, another case cracked” NEXT…. This is dangerous.
- Altruism: An advice that we get is, you “SHOULD” always help people, do good for the world. Its not an easy thing to do. You need to go out there, understand real problems, think about solutions, put them to work and make the world a better place for everyone. BORING….
Instead pick up a media device, type your way away. Easy and rewarding. There is no one to score what you have written. No one to vet the legitimacy of the process. No one to give negative feedback. (Why is there no downvote on linkedIn or fb or insta?) So as we click post, we feel okay, good for the world is done, I have done what every good person should do.
- Need for power: Giving advice is a position of power. Taking one not so much. I guess nothing much to explain here. When in a position to give advice, oftentimes we find ourselves, reinforcing our beliefs and opinions, irrespective of their merit, cause the seeker/viewer/reader isn’t really looking to debate you out of it. Its a real position of power, and everyone likes to power trip a bit. 😉
If you give me the distribution power of the internet and network effects of LinkedIn, meaningless advices will overpower meaningful ones, and since people like to eat up the posts with most engagement points, a lot of us don’t really know how to deal with advice we never wanted. It just fills the head. And unless you very consciously consider throwing it out, it stays there and bubbles up in free time to make you feel sad, because guess what, you might not be doing/following what you “SHOULD” have.
A ranty kind of a piece, but think about it. As we start spending, 10-12 hours on the internet, with a good 30% of it on the social media, other media consumption sites, subtle things like these, which on the face of it look all good and lovely, might really be messing up with your brain. Be very cognizant of the fact that a good advice is not free, is only received when you ask for it, and is only given when asked for it.
You SHOULD protect yourself at all times, from shouldisms that are all around you. Or Should you?– SST
A graduate from BITS Pilani, class of 2019, I am currently working as a Product Manager at Flipkart. I like to write about things that get stuck in my head. By writing I make sure everyone knows what absurd thoughts I have :P Thanks for visiting.