Mar 24, 2021–Anyone else exhausted by smarmy advice posted on social media? You can recognize it not only by the shallowness of thought, but by the “flying toasters” backgrounds. The more flowers, clouds, or sunbeams in the image, the more treacly the sentiment.

As Dilbert cartoonist Scott Adams puts it: Advice is just ego and ignorance disguised as helpfulness.

Besides being bland and obvious, most advice is not even actionable. Examples:

  • When you point a finger, there are three fingers pointing back at you.
  • There is no I in team.
  • Just because they’re in your circle, doesn’t mean they are in your corner.

Besides reading those gems on your high school coach’s bulletin board, when have you ever put then into use? Ad in.

I believe the masses crave a more craven style of guidance. Something with a little more substance and a lot more truth, even though it may be awkward to say out loud. So here goes: (Note: These don’t all come from personal experience. Really.)

  • Don’t put Icy Hot on any areas of really sensitive skin. Even as an experiment. It will hurt and you can’t get it off.
  • Apparently if you hail from a certain geographic area, you should not pronounce the “d” in “sandwich.” It gets you teased mercilessly by people from every other state.
  • Don’t try to learn a musical instrument after age 14. Or anything new for that matter. It’s impossible.
  • Guys, always let a woman pick out the clothes you wear. Seriously. Even if she hates you, you’ll look better than if you dress yourself.
  • On days you feel good, do stuff. Those days become more rare and precious as you get older.
  • Never go to bed with ideas left in your head. They’ll disappear in your sleep. Even if you have to scrawl them out on a cardboard box using a kid’s marker, write them down. Like I did with this column.
  • When you’re young, never think older people have all the answers. Because when you get older, you’ll think younger people have all the answers.
  • That thing you are most afraid of, do first.
  • Don’t take out your contact lenses after eating Mexican food.
  • Don’t forget to breathe. Even when you don’t have to.
  • You can always count on someone who was in 4-H.
  • If you want to own pretty things someday, “musician” is not a viable career path. Nor is “writing.”
  • Over tip.
  • If you want something, buy it. (Unless you are a musician or writer.)
  • Humility is not a virtue. It is an anchor. The most successful people have the least shame. So work on becoming more shameless.
  • Never do anyone a favor. They won’t appreciate it, and you’ll regret it.
  • Don’t expect people to call back when they say they will. They won’t. (Unless they were in 4-H.)


  • When you run out of good ideas, come up with some kind of list. It requires less thought than a column and fills up just as much space.