THE BLOG
09/17/2013 06:53 pm ET Updated Nov 17, 2013

You're Not Helping: The Sociology of Crap Advice

There's a disturbing new trend. No, I'm not talking about the proliferation of country music award shows. Rather, I'm referring to people giving crap advice. It seems you can't have a conversation with anyone anymore without being inundated with useless, worthless, time-wasting garbage advice.

What's that? You're not familiar with the term 'crap advice'? Let me explain.

Here is an example of good advice, real advice...

"You just graduated from culinary school and now you're looking for a job? Let me give you some advice. I have a friend who owns a restaurant downtown. I heard he is looking for a new chef. Here is his phone number. Call him. In fact, I'll call him myself."

See? That's advice, as in "advising you with unfamiliar information and actual help."

Now here is an example of crap advice...

"You just graduated from culinary school and now you're looking for a job? Let me give you some advice. You should check the Internet and research the restaurants in your area. Find out which places are hiring, and if they serve the kind of food you make."

See the difference? One example is helpful. The other example is "I don't know what the f*ck I'm talking about, but even though I have nothing to offer and I have no plans on lifting a finger to help you, I'm turning the conversation back around to myself by hammering you with my pseudo-expertise about obvious stuff that any dipsh*t who doesn't live under a rock would already know."

See? In one example, you're thankful for the advice. The other example is condescending and frustrating; that's called 'crap advice'.

Now that I have a platform to be heard, I'm taking it upon myself to rid the nation of crap advice, just as Jonas Salk rid the country of polio and the Jonas Brothers rid our nation's daughters of their virginity, I'm going to eradicate crap advice.

"I woke up this morning with a terrible headache."
"You should see a doctor."

Think about that response.
1. This crap advice assumes that you are not aware that there is such a thing as a doctor.
2. This crap advice assumes that you are not aware that you have the opportunity and the legal right to go see a doctor about your condition.
3. This crap advice assumes that you are unable to distinguish between medical conditions for that you should and should not seek treatment. In other words, the crap advice giver is better able than you to "feel" your own headache.

There is a myth that people who give crap advice "mean well". They don't. Crap advice is a passive-aggressive mark of control; it's an attempt at dominance. If someone is trying to get his or her novel published, and you give them the contact information for your step-mother's brother who is a literary agent, then you mean well. Now, the advice might not work out. Maybe your step-mother's agent brother doesn't like your novel. Or maybe he isn't interested in reading it. But you gave this person the information. You tried. You meant well. But if someone is trying to get his or her novel published, and you say, "You know what you should do? You should write a query letter and send it out to agents," then you don't mean well. Obviously, someone who has taken the time to write a novel knows that there are these things called "letters" and "agents". And, if someone has taken the time to write a novel, I bet, even before coming to you, they've already sent out many query letters to agents. No, when a crap advice giver speaks, it's a not-so-subtle way of saying, "I'm better than you. That's why I can waste your time with pointless words. Because even though you're not getting anything out of this conversation, it makes me feel knowledgeable and superior. So my time is being satisfied. And my time is worth more than yours."

Crap advice is the Jar Jar Binks of human interaction.

(side note: Does anyone know any literary agents? I'm trying to get my novel published. It's about sexy vampires.)

People who offer crap advice aren't necessarily bad people. They just can't help themselves. It's a disease, like leukemia or sex addiction or all those Fast & Furious movies. But the obsessive compulsion to give crap advice should not make it socially acceptable.

Understand that crap advice is different than bad advice. Bad advice has substance behind it. "You're bored? You know what you should do? You should take a vacation." Crap advice. "A vacation? Naw, you don't need a vacation. What you need is a face tattoo. Let me get out my ink gun." Bad advice. See the difference? In the latter, someone is making something happen.

Real advice, regardless of whether it is good or bad, is a verb. It's someone doing something. Real advice starts with "I'm going to..." Crap advice starts with "You should..."

But I can end it. I can put a stop to all this crap advice that's polluting the air worse than Sean Hannity broadcasting his radio show from a tire-burning plant while smoking a stogie.

Here's my five-step cure for people infected with giving crap advice...

1. When someone gives you crap advice, don't respond with a "thank you". Why would you thank someone for wasting your time? That's like watching Norbit and then thanking the film's producers.

2. When someone offers you crap advice, ask, "If I follow your crap advice, and it doesn't help, what will you give me?" My suggestion would be to start with 100 bucks. Oh, words are cheap. Put your money where your mouth is. "If your crap advice doesn't work out, will you give me 100 dollars?" If one doesn't have enough confidence in one's own advice to back it up with a few bucks, then those words are worth about as much as that moldy old insect-infested reclining chair that has been out on your neighbor's front lawn for the past few months with the "free" sign. Does your crap advice have value, or are you just trying to pawn it off on a couple of college students with a pick-up truck?

3. When someone gives you crap advice, ask, "Why do you think I wouldn't already know that?" It's like asking Jessica Simpson to name the judges on the Supreme Court. You won't get an answer.

4. When someone offers you crap advice, give them a chance to get out of it. Simply say, "You don't owe me anything. It's okay if you don't want to help me. But if give me crap advice, then the two of us are now in this together. So once you're finished talking, I expect you to follow through. I expect your help. You think I should go see a doctor? Okay. Will you drive me?" Then pause. Then ask, "Now think about it. Do you really want to help me? Do you really want to give me your crap advice?" (side note: Most people don't owe you anything. But alter that first sentence if you donated your kidney to this person, if they slept with your sister, or if you ever helped them move. Then they do owe you... especially if they have a really heavy dining room table.)

5. When someone gives you crap advice, hug them. Tell them that they are important. Tell the person that he or she is a valuable, relevant, and contributing member of society. Remember- people who give crap advice are simply compensating for their low self-esteem, caused by the lack of encouragement and emotional support and validation they received from their parents. People who give crap advice just want to be loved.

I hope this essay is the catalyst to ridding the nation -- and perhaps even the entire planet -- of crap advice. My suggestion? You should send it out to all your friends.

Subscribe to the Entertainment email.
Home to your favorite fan theories and the best movie recs.