Friday, October 08, 2004


As a male in my very early 30's (actually, I am 30), I feel ashamed to say it, but I think I'm addicted to advice. What do I mean, you ask? Are you asking if I'm a flip-flopping, bleeding hearty liberal type that needs to poll everyone around me to decide what I should do? Am I the Caandian Conservative answer to John Kerry?

Ah no. I just love reading advice columns.

I read 'em all, from Dear Abby to Dan Savage. And I love watching TV shows like "Dr. Phil" (although I don't go so far as Oprah--I have standards, you know!). I'm not quite sure why I like reading about other people's problems. It's definitely not because misery loves company. I have a great life with very little to complain about. I don't have a disfunctional relationship with my wife or my family and I'm a pretty well-adjusted guy (now that I've got those voices in my head under control).

I think maybe its because problems are all part of the life experience. I find it interesting to read or hear about what other people are going through. But, I also think its becuase people's woes can be just plain entertaining. Reading about some guy who left his wife after he got his mistress pregnant only to find out that she too is married and no longer wants to have anything to do with him is just awesome. That's real human drama for ya, folks!

Now, of course, I have to endure advice on ettiquette, or sometimes the latest news on glaucoma (that's usually Dear Abby), but it's worth it to hear about all the trials and tribulations of the poor souls that write in.

I especially like when the advice columnist in question is a hardass. That's whay I like Dr. Phil. I don't tune in to watch him tell his guests that "they're all special in a unique way"! I want him to lay the smackdown of these people. Like that women that had 5 different kids by like 5 different men? That's good TV. Or the "Dr. Phil family" who always have a boatload of problems to deal with.

Anyway, maybe I'm just mean. Its not that I don't feel sorry for these people, but sometimes you just have to shake your head and wonder how these people get into this situations in the first place. Ok, fine--maybe I like to be a little judgemental. Maybe I just like to feel superior. Or maybe its just like watching a car crash.

Either way, while there are people willing to spill their guts to a total stranger and a national audience, I'll be there to take it all in.


"Faithful Reader in Toronto"

"I'm not quite sure why I like reading about other people's problems. It's definitely not because misery loves company."

I think that's your answer right there. You can sit back and relax knowing that, no matter bollocksed-up your own life may seem or get, at least there are people out there who are screwier than you. -)

I also like Dr. Phil (I'm 23 and am writing this as fast as I can so I can get home and watch his show) because of his "no nonsense" attitude. He'll sit there and tell people they're stupid until they accept the fact.

Okay, gotta go. Time for Dr. Phil.
I think that the real reason you like Dr. Phil is that he gets to say what you're thinking, but can't say due to the general pleasantries of polite society. He can go up to a four-hundred pound woman and say, without hesitation, 'You are fat'. If you saw a four-hundred pound woman on the street and did the same, somehow you'd be the bad guy.

I thibnk both these comments have merit. At the end of the day, I do appreciate the method in which Dr. Phil gives advice. A lot of it needs to be said. Just ask my father about Dr. Spock (not the pointy-eared one, the child psychologist one) and his "child first" method of parenting.

And we're now seeing the results--parents are so afraid that their kids will be unhappy, we are raising a new generation of spoiled, selfish kids with fragile egos who think everything should be handed to them on a silver platter. I think Dr. Phil and others provide a great wake-up call for the slippery slope we collectively seem to be on.
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