You shouldn’t blindly follow Internet guru advice. Except for this piece:
INTERNET ADVICE, AND MOST ADVICE IN GENERAL, IS FROM THE GIVER’S OWN PERSONAL EXPERIENCE THAT THEY THEN PASS OFF AS UNIVERSAL.
That’s it. Here’s why this bit of Internet advice is 100 percent true, and how you can recognize when other bits of Internet advice are worth following, and when they are not.
Internet advice commonly takes the form of relationship advice, business advice, diet and exercise advice, and yes, writing advice, at least in the circles I run in. Here are some common forms of Internet advice and how to separate the wheat from the chaff (hint: it’s easier than you think):
1. MASSIVE GENERALIZATIONS. How many times do you see this? “All men are trash!” or “Marriage is divorce-rape!” Boo hoo. People who give advice like this usually (a) just got out of a bad relationship, or (b) just had a nasty divorce. They are taking their own, singular, discrete experience and extrapolating it onto an entire demographic. In this case, one-half of the human population. You had a bad breakup, or have had trouble meeting a nice man or woman; therefore, some 3.5 billion people on Earth are all garbage. It’s absurd.
You see the same thing with race. It used to be a white person had one bad experience with a black person and therefore thought all blacks were like that, but lately we’ve seen where a white woman (and nine-times-out-of-ten racial hatred seems to be directed at white woman) did or said something that gave a non-white person the bad-feels, so therefore white women need to be abolished or something. It’s ridiculous, but this brings me to advice discernment tip number one: THE LARGER THE POPULATION A GENERALIZATION IS ABOUT, THE LESS LIKELY IT IS TO BE TRUE.
2. WHAT IS THE PERSON SELLING, AND HOW? Whether it’s relationship advice, fitness advice, or writing advice, lots of Internet gurus love to sell their advice as some sort of lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with this, but you really have to look at what the person is selling and how they sell it. Lots of gurus give away 95 percent of their advice, and then charge money for the remaining 5, which may include increased access to their expertise. That’s fine, and it makes sense. But some Internet gurus use lots of insult marketing and outrage marketing to peddle their wares. It’s when you get here that I think the buyer should beware. Secondly, and more importantly, check out if the guru is selling their product or expertise as the one true path, that if you don’t follow, you’re some kind of loser. Third, test the claims the guru is making. It’s become a cliche to make fun of the whole “I woke up at 3:00 a.m., lifted for 4 hours, took a cold shower, GRIT AND GRINDED, and made $20,000K before lunchtime on 2 hours of sleep,” but people actually make claims like that, very often posted underneath pictures of them standing next to a Lamborghini and/or some kind of scantily clad woman. It shouldn’t take a trained prosecutor to tell that most such claims are utter nonsense. Here’s our second advice discernment tip: BRAGGADOCIO MAY BE A USEFUL SELLING TOOL, BUT THE HUMBLE GURU IS VERY OFTEN THE MORE TRUSTWORTHY.
3. UNIVERSALITY. Many gurus will claim that their way is the only way. This should give you pause. Other gurus admit that their way worked for them, and that it may work for you too. This second type of guru will usually invite you to test-drive their advice to see if it works for you, too, before shelling out the money or making some kind of time-commitment. This brings us to our third and final advice discernment tip: CLAIMS OF UNIVERSALITY SHOULD BE GREETED WITH EXTREME SKEPTICISM.
There is a lot of advice out there, and almost as many purveyors of such advice. You may be looking for guidance in some sphere of your life, and the Internet is a great resource for doing so. I just hope that you will take heed of my advice, which actually IS true and universal, and discern if the advice is worth following before you spend your time and money on following it.
There is nothing wrong with basing your opinion on personal experience, although personal experience supported by cold, hard fact is even better. But unless you’re Jesus Christ Himself, claiming that your way is the only way, or that your hot take is the only true hot take, is a gigantic red flag.
. . . .
Okay, yes, this post was inspired in large part by Tomi Lahren’s incredibly shrill and tone-deaf “All men are trash!” video. Chick got dumped and she’s bitter and it’s all men’s fault and she doesn’t have an ounce of self-awareness. Newsflash, Tomi: YOU DON’T SEEM LIKE ALL THAT PLEASANT OF A PERSON. I’m sorry that I’m just basing that on my personal experience of you as a public figure, but dang . . . at some point it might not be the rest of the world. It just might be you.
I don’t spread despair. I spread discernment.