They Say Things Like:
"He was late to dinner again? You need to dump him and get it over with. He obviously doesn't care about you. He's probably late because he's out cheating."
"If that son of a bitch said something like that to me, I'd punch him in his damn mouth. If you don't do something about it, he's just going to keep on doing it because you're letting him."
"Yeah, that's right, buddy. Punch his fucking suit completely off."
Why It's a Bad Source:
Ever been to a family reunion where that one uncle gets shitfaced and picks a fight with his brother? Then after he storms off, drunkenly weaving his car into the sunset, the rest of the family turns to each other and dominates the rest of the night with that conversation. "What the hell was that all about? Did you see the way he just flipped out over nothing?" People love a good conflict. Just ask the group of girls constantly pressuring their friend to dump "that inconsiderate asshole" based solely around the one-sided relay of a single argument. Or the teenager, telling his friend that the next time that dickhead customer comes in, he should drop his burger on the floor and then serve it to him.
If you'd like to see an immediate example of this, pull up virtually any message board with a thread from a person requesting advice. A person claims that their neighbor keeps taking their parking spot, and some random dumbass will eventually tell them that they should key his car or shit on the hood. "That'll teach him not to fuck with you!" Of course, unless they have a legitimate mental problem, they'd never do that themselves because they have enough common sense to know that they'd get into legal trouble, as well as a probable ass-fisting from the neighbor. But it's not their problem, so why not?
"Yes! This is exactly how I would have handled the situation! Good job!"
They're the kids gathered around the playground in a circle, chanting "FIGHT, FIGHT, FIGHT" while two other kids argue. The reason is because there's little to no entertainment value in a peaceful resolution. People want to see escalation, so why not give it a push in that direction to kill a little boredom?
If you look at the posting history of these types of people, you can always pick out the emotional baggage they're bringing into a thread like that. They're suggesting that a person tell their boss to fuck off and then walk out of their job because that's something they really want to do themselves ... if it weren't for the fact that they're smart enough to know that they need a paycheck, and burning that bridge means having a gaping scar on their work history. So they tell you to do it instead as a means of experiencing that fantasy through your actions.
Yep. That's exactly what it's like in real life.
For them, it's consequence-free, so why not suggest it? If you come back two weeks later and explain how you just got out of jail for destruction of property and indecent exposure, their reaction will be celebratory: "Hell yes! It was totally worth it!" Meanwhile, they still have a job and a clean police record.
#1. Smart-Sounding People Without Experience
They Say Things Like:
"Quitting smoking is just a matter of willpower. Just grit your teeth and do it. Look at me, I've never smoked a day in my life, and I'm doing awesome!"
"You should apply for a job at the call center. That would be easy as hell -- just sitting on your ass in an air-conditioned room, reading troubleshooting tips off of a piece of paper all day. You'd basically be making money for doing nothing."
"I'm sorry, sir, but you can't be that fucking stupid. I refuse to believe it."
Why It's a Bad Source:
This is the most common source of bad advice you're ever likely to encounter. It comes from people who mean well, and they may even be educated in the subject you're discussing. But they lack the one thing that gives their advice solid, concrete value: experience.
The one I see most frequently is people without children giving advice on parenting. It drives most parents nuts because, before they had kids, every mom and dad on the planet had a firm grasp on what choices they'd make when they had their own. And once they did become parents, every theory they ever had on the subject got stuffed directly into their assholes and fired into space like some sort of parenting ass-cannon. It's not like you imagine it's going to be, but you don't know that until you're knee deep in the experience. It's the difference between star gazing and actually walking on the moon. Imagine trying to explain to Neil Armstrong that he was doing it all wrong -- that the correct way to walk on the moon is to use more of a hunching motion to scoot along because all studies point to that method being more effective.
"No, go on ahead. What you're saying is really cute. It'll give my grandkids a good laugh."
He'd laugh you out of existence, even if you had a Ph.D. in astrophysics to back you up. Because until you've been there and experienced it for yourself, you're just talking in theory. It's the same with parenting. All the classes in child psychology don't amount to jack shit when you have one kid drawing dicks on the wall with lipstick while the other has somehow taken a bottle of pills off of the top shelf where you thought it was safe and is now sitting in a scattered pile of them on the floor.
"Well, I took care of my little brother, so I have a pretty good idea what it's like."
As soon as you leave the room, we laugh until we can't breathe over that line. Yes, we as parents do understand that there are a few rare cases of extremely abusive households where the parent(s) just tune out and you're left to do all of the adult stuff that they were supposed to be doing. In the other 99 percent of cases, what you did with your little brother isn't even close to what it's like as a parent because you had an escape hatch back then. You weren't the one paying the bills and buying the groceries and attending meetings with teachers and getting his vaccinations. You may have done some of that, but the fact that you're still sane says you didn't do it all. And if something went wrong, it wasn't on your head. It was on your parents'. As a parent yourself, that escape hatch has been welded shut. This is now truly yours -- all of it.
Hey, it's your own fault. Nobody forced you to wear that turtleneck and giant sweater combo.
I can't stress enough how vastly different book education is from "driving your child to the hospital at 3 a.m. while covered in his vomit" education. There's just no comparison.
And it's the same with giving advice on things like depression or addiction. Unless you've felt either of those things for yourself, it's impossible to truly understand what the other person is going through. Their mind is working in a manner that yours does not. It's like trying to explain to someone what eggplant tastes like if you've never actually eaten it. That doesn't mean that only a heroin addict can help a heroin addict, but unless you've actually experienced working with one firsthand, or been there while a loved one has gone through it, it's not only impossible to advise a person on the subject -- it's downright fucking dangerous.
For more sources of bad advice, check out The 50 Creepiest Pieces of Romance Advice Ever Published and 7 Psychotic Pieces of Relationship Advice from Cosmo.