Monday, 1 April 2013

Everything Will Be Okay

I'm a big fan of advice columns. Delicious schadenfreude is certainly part of the appeal, but what I like most about advice columns is they also give the illusion that every problem has a solution, that every question can be answered.

I was going through some files today, and found some questions-and-answers I'd copy and pasted from a couple of advice columns. I have come a long way from when I was struggling with similar issues to the stranger who wrote the letters; I'd found the advice given to be helpful, and rereading it, it was still valid and true.

Here is the complete list of advice columns I read regularly. None of them is perfect: about half the list give some pretty questionable advice on certain subjects. Still, I read them.

  • A Queer Chick and Imperfect Advice From Strangers on The Hairpin. The Hairpin's been rejiggering its advice lately, but these two columns are always good.
  • Captain Awkward is super into having Scripts and Boundaries. This is probably my current favourite advice-fix.
  • Dan Savage's podcasts are occasionally problematic (the dude has privilege like whoa), but on the whole reliably entertaining (and NSFW).
  • Dear Sugar is currently on hiatus, probably for good. (What, you publish a novel and you abandon us forever??) The archives are still worth reading; it's a different take on the advice format.
  • Dear Margo is "the old Dear Prudence". She is the daughter of "Ann Landers" and writes in the same, clipped style. The questions lean towards etiquette, which is often interesting, if mostly irreverent.
  • Dear Prudence is great for absurd, probably fake, questions, and not so great for helpful advice on "modern" issues. Puts out the most content, three updates (plus a video!) per week.
  • Miss Information answers sex and dating question for kids these days over on Nerve. It's interesting, how differently things are handled in the States. It seems more complicated.
I once wrote into an advice column, and my question was published with a cute little reply. It was so nice, seeing my fears and insecurities validated, that my problem was a wider human problem, which a great many people will have to struggle with at one time or another. It was nice that my problem had an answer, that everything would be okay.

The problem had resolved itself (or rather, I'd resolved it?) about five hours before. Still, it was nice to know that everything would have been okay anyway, sooner or later. 


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