The number one thing that gets my bullshit alarm to go off is when someone gives unsolicited advice, as though they are some kind of spiritual or intellectual life guru.
There are a lot of things I have opinions on, but once I start taking these opinions and voicing them in “advice” form, I become totally full of shit. Here are a few examples:
- Before a chess game you should clear your mind and go for a walk instead of playing a video game or preparing for your opponent up to five minutes before the round.
- If you didn’t get a good night’s sleep, don’t go to the gym.
- When you travel, XYZ is a must see, you can’t miss it!!!
- Put down your cell phone and enjoy the moment.
Do I agree with the above? Mostly no. I think that before a chess game everyone is completely different, and totally different routines will work depending on who you are. But there are tons of people telling you exactly what you should and shouldn’t do right before a game.
I do think that you should generally skip working out if you didn’t sleep well, but often a 20 minute nap will rejuvenate you enough to make exercise worthwhile again. And for some people who have kids and a busy schedule and can literally never get enough sleep, I sure don’t suggest that they never work out.
I also want to strangle anyone who tells me I “have to see” anything in another country. Unless you know me unbelievably well, you have no idea what I have to see.
Also I can’t stand the anti technology commentary. I think it’s so overblown to the point of absurdity. When I’m alone I’m on my phone constantly, and I think it greatly improves my quality of life. I get to listen to music and dance down the street, and it makes me feel more connected no matter where I am.
What am I trying to say exactly? When you give advice, most of the time, there should be some level of uncertainty.
I am a very strong chess player compared to the general population of chess players, however except for the most basic information there is, I don’t know if there is any advice I can give and be certain that what I’m saying is true.
It makes me sound really wishy washy sometimes, but I believe it’s more intellectually honest than stating something as a fact, when I don’t believe it is one.
I mean I can look at a chess position, and know that I believe white is slightly better, but I don’t believe it enough to say “White is slightly better”. I can say “I believe White is slightly better because of X, Y and Z”, but often I’m not certain in my belief. However players about the same level as me, or weaker, will confidently state things in public that I’m totally unsure about. How can this be? I know that they basically don’t understand anything, so why do they behave like they do?
Do I know the best way to study chess? Nope, I have no clue! I believe it’s different for everyone. The only thing I know is that studying one hour a day probably isn’t enough if you want to be World Champion. But for most people, I couldn’t even tell you if studying 2 hours a day is better than studying 6 hours a day. One is more sustainable, and one might lead to burnout. Probably the six hours is better, but it’s not an automatic answer.
Do I know what chess books you should read? I have some opinions, but when people speak like “You MUST read this book”…..well I literally believe that about no books. There are books I like and you can read them if you want, but it won’t kill you if you never look at it.
In CrossFit you see a lot of people online just throw out random advice as though it’s gospel. Many of them are just randos who have no idea what they are talking about. Sometimes they are coaches and have some knowledge, although even then I don’t think they do a great job of realizing that everyone is wildly different.
I think I’m pretty decent at CrossFit, but I basically don’t know anything. I know maybe a few strategy ideas in WODs, but in almost all cases they are athlete dependent. I do know that you probably shouldn’t row too hard in most WODs, but there are definitely lots of exceptions to that!
One thing that a lot of CrossFit affiliates like to preach is this militant anti-sugar mindset. I have sugar sometimes, and I think it’s TOTALLY fine to have sugar in moderation.I will throw up the next time someone acts like I’m going to die because I drink one coke. But who knows, maybe I’ll die of some donut related disease sometime soon and the psycho anti-sugar people will be proven right?
If you are going to travel, do I know exactly what you should do? Not unless you tell me “hey this is a problem can you help me with it?”. Then I can give some advice that might be smart. But if you are just some random traveler and I don’t know much about you, I have no idea what to tell you. I can tell you what was interesting to me, but I’d never presume that my opinion on something was absolutely correct.
Every travel article makes me want to smash my computer. I mean I literally don’t give a crap about almost every major tourist attraction, and that includes the Sagrada Familia, which everyone tells you that you’ll probably die if you don’t go to see it. I’ve been there and I really just don’t care about it at all. It made no impact on me whatsoever, except for “why am I waiting in a line to see a church?”.
Do I know what you should do with your money, or your time, or your love life? I maybe have some opinions, but that’s all they are.
The Internet seems full of “gurus”, who want to give you spiritual, intellectual, or financial advice on anything. Anyone who tweets advice for no reason I figure is either pompous, a charlatan or an idiot.
Now I’m aware I probably do this from time to time, especially in an offhand way with friends. But I will never make a tweet saying “Do this, spend more energy on this, focus more on that, blah blah blah”.
So what am I saying? Just phrase things with more uncertainty. If you want to post some quote for how someone should live their life…be like “hey I read this and it resonated with me”, instead of “You should meditate for 30 minutes every day in order to achieve the maximum inner harmony” or whatever bullshit everyone is peddling.