Just Add Vice
It’s that time of year when there is an increase in stupidity in film. Horror movies rely on the pantomime element to get their viewers involved in the story. They know we’ve seen it all before, they know we quite like the fact that we think we know what’s going to happen, sometimes they’ll surprise us and sometimes they’ll give us what we want – to feel like we know more than the characters in the story and if we were them we would do things differently.
We watch with a mixture of impending yuck and utter exasperation as yet another dopey horror film character puts their hand down the garbage disposal unit in the kitchen sink.
Do these people not watch horror movies!?! We wonder in shock at their complete lunacy.
Stop! Don’t do it! Oh come on! Seriously!?!
Do you really think that it is a good idea to hit the evil baddie living dead thingy only once then turn your back on it? Smash its head in! Several times, make sure there is no head left, and then smash it a bit more.
If the characters stopped before making a life-ending decision, and turned to camera to ask us for advice… would we be able to save them from their own Doh brain?
If you’re running through the woods late at night to escape something awful which is chasing you… First – DON’T TRIP! Just don’t, it is bloody irritating. Second – Don’t turn around to see if it is behind you as you will run right into it, those awful somethings do that kind of shit. Third – Don’t stop because you think you’ve managed to get away. And fourth – No matter what you do, you’re going to die so do whatever you please. BIG SIGH!
If I had listened to the advice other people have given me my life would be very different right now. Would it be better or worse? I’m not sure, but I have a sneaking suspicion that I might not have a life at all.
Hindsight is always such a smug and annoying voice in the head. It knows the outcome of everything, yet where is it when you need advice before you do something? At those times when you have no idea how a choice is going to pan out, instead of the wisdom of know-it-all hindsight you get good old doubt whispering words of worry.
Doubt is one of the main spurs which urges us to ask for advice. Doubt is the child of confusion. We’re not sure… what should we do… we can’t make up our mind… the pros and cons are swirling and making us dizzy… perhaps someone else will know the answer to our question.
I’m one of those people who never asks for advice. I do ask for directions, opinions, points of view and instructions, but advice… the very word rubs me the wrong way. I know that etymologically it does not stem from vice, but it has vice in it. And when you ask someone for their advice… well, to me, it just seems like every vice in their character steps forward to advise.
Pride – Tell someone a sob story and out comes pity to look down on you and lift them way up above you. They feel sorry for you and rather smug about themselves. They may relate to you and relate how they were in a similar situation but they triumphed where you have failed, still, they are willing to guide you in your foolishness. You’ll never be as good as they are, but maybe they can help you fix some of the mess you’ve made.
Wrath – Wrath is often coupled with pride. If pride is the vice in advice, then wrath will follow if you ignore the advice. It may also precede the advice as a tutting scolding. How could you have been such an idiot and gotten yourself into such a pickle. Insert advice and then wait around to see if you take the advice given. If you do not then you can be reprimanded for not taking it. The fact that perhaps by taking it you would have ended up in a worse situation is irrelevant. The fact that what you did, which may have been inspired by listening to the advice and deciding they did not know what they were talking about and so you did it your way and solved your problem is also irrelevant. Their pride is wounded and they are angry with you.
Envy – You may not think that others have anything to envy about you and your life, especially not in a situation where you are asking for advice. We generally only ask for advice when we feel a bit lost. Why would anyone envy us in our uncertainty and why would the person to whom we have asked advice envy us? Yet envy insinuates itself in many interactions and relationships, and by asking someone for advice, someone who may have considered you to be more blessed than them until now, you are giving them the opportunity to even out the unfairness of you getting things which they feel that they deserve more than you do. Their good intentions may have bad intentions lurking within them. And some people just envy other people’s problems. Your drama seems more interesting than theirs, more dramatic or more manageable and solvable.
Lust – Films use this one a lot as a plot device, and to insert a sex scene into a film which probably doesn’t need one. Two friends find themselves becoming more than just friends when one goes to the other because of a problem, they are in distress, they need help, advice and a shoulder to cry on… the tears act as an aphrodisiac and they end up kissing passionately. Then two actors strip and fake sex. There is a certain arousal in the act of being asked for advice similar to the one we feel when someone finds us attractive. If someone whom you find attractive asks for your advice… could this lead to something more? Is this an opening to become a hero to a damsel in distress or a mermaid who rescues the drowning prince? If you ask for advice about an intimate relationship from someone who wants an intimate relationship with you… lust may answer.
Greed – Greed is good… is bad advice. But many people have made a killing from taking it, and many people have also been killed by it. A position which prompts us to seek advice, can be a vulnerable position. We need help and someone has that help to sell to us. The more desperate our need for assistance, the more expensive that assistance becomes. It is the law of supply and demand. Self-Help is a lucrative business, and it helps itself first. Helping others to help themselves is quite noble, but those pesky others aren’t always grateful, nor do they always value the advice given especially when it is free, make them pay for it and they’ll appreciate what is being offered. Which is better, advice which has a price tag or which is free? Yet is it ever truly free? Even a friend may see an IOU in the offing. A favour given is one which may want a repayment in kind.
Avarice – Avarice is often best friends with greed. If you are a professional advice giver one of the rules you will follow is – Give a sample of advice for free and make them pay for the rest. Withholding is a powerful motivational force. It is also the information hiding behind the advice which may be more helpful than the advice itself. Such as how the person giving the advice acquired it in the first place. It is 8 out of 10 people who agreed and liked this product. It won’t tell you why the 2 people who did not agree or did not like a product did not agree or like the product. It is the benefits of something without the benefit of knowing what the side effects are. The advice has been edited for consumption. Here’s what you need to know, what you don’t know won’t kill you… or will it? Dump that loser friend, lover, job, you’re worth more, deserve more… Carpe Diem, Just Do It! Okay, I’ve dumped them, I’ve Carped my Diem and Done it, now what? Now I’m dumping you because you’re a loser who keeps asking me for advice. Live your life stop expecting me to live it for you!
Sloth – You’d think sloth was too lazy to bother with advice giving. But idleness has a way of idly doing stuff. When asking for advice do you pay attention to whether the person of whom you are asking advice is actually listening to your question? Listening seems to be so much harder to do than talking. It requires more effort, but what is the profit of that effort? Some people tend to only listen for the space which comes after a bunch of words and punctuation such as a question mark. While you were talking, explaining your problem in great detail, outlining the fact that you have already covered many options, they were thinking about themselves and what they are going to say when you eventually shut up. Had they been listening they might have heard that the advice they are about to rather patronisingly give you is something you have already thought of, tried and found to be useless for you. Had they been listening they might have to conclude that they have no advice to give, and they might have to admit that. And you, are you being lazy too? Asking for advice when you already know what you should do but you need someone else to agree with you (or maybe disagree depending on your personality) to give you the nudge to do it?
I’m one of those people who does not like to give advice. I’ll share my view, give an opinion (usually with a disclaimer attached, such as I came to this conclusion after a series of mistakes), point to a possible way to go or the method I use to do a certain thing. Sometimes I sound like I know what I’m talking about, sometimes I do, sometimes I’m bluffing, mostly I’m in that place known as I know, but I also know I don’t know and some of this is guesswork based on erratic research and theoretical thinking. Theories have to be lived. Quantum results are always at play. And I only know what works and doesn’t work for me, and even that changes depending on the situation and other variables.
Do you question whether the person from whom you are asking advice is actually someone from whom you should be asking advice?
One of the things I’ve learned from experience, by making mistakes and not wanting to repeat the same ones again, is to always check your sources. If you’re asking someone for advice, do a bit of a background check. Some of the most prolific advice givers, professional and non-professional, are also the ones who often don’t take their own advice. They tell you how to live your life, but if you look at their life… hmmm. They hand advice out like candy on Halloween, but they don’t eat candy because they think it is unhealthy for them. And they really need a disclaimer on their handouts which warns the receiver that this candy-coated advice could be a trick or a treat.
*Post prompted by The Daily Post’s Weekly Writing Challenge: Dear Abby