Posts Tagged ‘bullshit’

I might not be professional life coach but I play one on social media!

I give the best advice on Facebook. Seriously. Whenever a friend is feeling down, I’m the first one to offer scads of advice drawn from the deep and ever-plentiful well of my own misery. My friends are equally as helpful… even if it’s just the same old well-worn phrases such as “It’s always darkest before the dawn,” or “You just gotta hang in there, J.P.” While I appreciate all this online love, it does have me believing we’re all as full of shit as everyone else.

With such a wealth of feel-good philosophers out there (myself included), why the hell are we so miserable? I swear to the gods, if I’m not posting some angry missive on Facebook or my blog, a simple scroll through my newsfeed will show that one of my friends is. You’d think with all the wit and wisdom we share, at least some of us would employ one or two of these great ideas when the shit hits the fan in our own lives. Is it because we know our advice is bullshit? Hmmmm…

Let’s face it, it’s easier to help someone else than it is to fix our own problems. It all has to do with a little something called “objectivity,” which is “a sense of impartiality or fairness.” One must be able to look at a problem objectively in order to solve it, which pretty rules out any idea of us being able to help ourselves. The only upside to this observation is that at least I’m aware of my helplessness. I wonder if any of my fellow social media psychologists are willing to admit their lack of objectivity in their own lives.

Another problem with online advice: few people are truly so altruistic that they’re just willing to offer of themselves for just the sake of helping others. If you believe this about other people, you’re a fool; if you believe it about yourself, you’re a liar. There is a variety of reasons why most people like to “help” others, but the big three are:

1. The “helper” gets off on having a reputation of being a “good person.”

2. It makes the “helper” feel superior to the other person.

3. The “helper” is earning the trust of the other in hopes of manipulating that person at a later date.

Number three is the most insidious of the bunch and subject to a blog post all its own. (It’s an interesting story in manipulation tactics and if you’d like to read it sometime, message me in the comments.) Riddle me this, all ye stalwart crusaders: Deep down, you know I’m right. Admitting it is the first step.

The worst thing about Internet do-gooders is the complete hypocrisy under which so many of us operate. Constantly immersing oneself into other people’s problems really only succeed in one thing: it allows us to willfully ignore our own unresolved issues, personal shortcomings, and character flaws. The more the “helper” tries to help others, the bigger the mess he/she is. Perhaps it’s time these Internet advice columnists (myself included) start looking into a mirror instead of our inboxes. Just saying…

Wow! I really unloaded here, didn’t I? It was all for a good cause though… ’cause I said so. (LOL) There’s a lot of this going around lately, yet everyone who I see giving advice (myself included) will be the same people who are griping about how life isn’t fair a few days later. I guess this only means one thing: unlike my wife, who is a successful advice blogger, I don’t have much of a future in doing the same on here.

About J.P. Ribner
J.P. Ribner is the author of Viking fantasy adventure series “The Berserker’s Saga.” Currently, the saga features two novels – “Legacy of the Bear” and “Prophecy of the Bear.” For more about his written work, check out his website.

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It was like a scene out of Office Space with a more twisted logic. The new employee sauntered over to my cubicle to inform me that I would be responsible for five sales per week in another department. The conniving little prick didn’t care that I already was juggling my department and another one that was handed to me after the former manager quit. He also didn’t give two shits that I hadn’t had a raise in two years. Nope! All he cared about was being a hero in front of the boss at my expense. To add insult to injury, he condescendingly told me that the boss “already gave me his approval for this.” The message was clear: resistance is futile and “Reverse Seniority” was in full effect …

My friends told me not the take the job. They said the boss, aka “Big Man,” was a demanding prick who expected everything but gave nothing in return. As proof, they said he would brag about his vacation to vacation to Cabo San Lucas to employees who hadn’t had a raise in years. Since I was dead broke college student, I was forced to ignore their warnings and work for “The Company.” (Cue “Imperial March” theme music.)

During my first few months on the job, Big Man was somewhat as my friends described. He drove his Porsche to the office every day, had a different Rolex for every day of the week, and loved to regale us with tales of vacations in faraway lands such as Jamaica, Mexico, and the French Riviera. All that said, he did manage to be nice to me during my first six months; he even regularly complimented me on my columns that appeared in the college newspaper.

About a year in, I noticed that I went from being the star employee to “just another lazy-ass college kid livin’ off his parents’ money.” (It never occurred to him that I took out loans and was working for him to pay my way through school.) According to him, my sales numbers weren’t high enough, my attitude wasn’t positive enough, and I simply couldn’t do enough for The Company. (Cue “The Imperial March” theme.) It bothered me until some of the old timers said not to take it personally, the same thing happened to them. So I soldiered on.

Things completely went to shit during my third year on the job. By then, a new crop of freshmen meant a new crop of employees who soon became the apple of Big Man’s eye. Three of them in particular – Overbite, Double Chin, and Mop Top – were particularly adept at lying, flattering, and sucking the boss’s balls enough to allow them to fly up the company ladder three rungs at a time. Soon, these rookies became the de facto managers and directors of we who’d been there for years. Everything came to a head the day Mop Top sauntered over to my cubicle and saddled me with the additional responsibilities.

As angry as I was, I knew there was no use arguing about it. Mop Top was Big Man’s new pet and the two of them had already made up their minds. Plus, I already knew Big Man’s take on human resources management: “If you don’t like it, there’s the door.” And even if I did complain about being overworked and underpaid, I already know what he would’ve said: “A company has only two priorities: to its profits and its stockholders.” It was a nice way of saying, “Fuck off! You don’t deserve anything.”

Needless to say, Big Man went through the roof when I quit. In a matter of seconds, he was reminded about how much he and The Company (Cue “Imperial March” theme.) actually needed me. But instead of conducting an exit interview to learn about his shortcomings as a leader, he chose to yell and scream at me. “How can you do this to me after all I’ve done for you?” he said. I had to point out to him that a company’s only priorities are to its profits and stockholders. As CEO of J.P. Ribner, LLC, I owed it to my stockholders – my wife and child – to earn more money with a company would pay me more and I my work would be appreciated. I’m sure the lesson was lost on him.

Sadly, reverse seniority is common amongst narcissistic bosses. Their attention spans are notoriously short and since they believe they’re entitled to everything, they’re unable to appreciate what any one employee has done. Also, quiet, steady, hardworking employees don’t create the kind of excitement that silver-tongued false flatterers do, so it’s easy for the slow-and-steady types to fade into the darkness while the spotlight is trained on the boss and his pets. If you have a narcissistic boss, my advice is simple: Fire them before they fire you. My only regret is that it took my three years to do it.

Cue “Imperial March” theme.

scary3“You just can’t handle me because I’m honest and tell it like it is!”

How many times have you heard that one from the so-called friend or acquaintance who prides themselves on “telling it like it is?” If they’re not saying it, they’re boasting about it on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. Their penchant for blurting out unsolicited opinions about you and/or your life is usually lacking in truth and tact, but that doesn’t stop them. If you don’t like it, they’ll rudely say that you just “can’t handle the truth.” They might call it “brutal honesty,” but they’re only half right … and honesty ain’t got nothin’ to do with it!

Perhaps the biggest pitfall of the Honesty Fallacy is that those who commit it often mistake being honest for telling the truth. Full of themselves, these people sincerely believe that their honest opinion is equivalent to an incontrovertible fact or truth about a person, place, or situation. An honest opinion is still just that – an opinion – so those who engage in the Honesty Fallacy are doing nothing more than playing the part of the proverbial “armchair quarterback.”

Those who engage in the Honesty Fallacy aren’t honest at all, especially with themselves. Ever wonder why these folks are so eager to share their unedited, unfiltered thoughts about you? Is it that they’re trying to help you by cluing you in to some of your flaws? Hardly! These folks are being brutally honest because they want to hurt you, and they’re usually motivated by jealousy or a deep-seated – and often denied – hatred toward you. This brutal honesty of theirs is nothing more than a passive-aggressive way of lashing out at their frenemies in a thinly-veiled, socially-acceptable manner. It’s a game they play with you and they continually up the ante to see just how much further they can push the meanness envelope.

And may the gods help you if you ever snap on these bastions of honesty!

The Honesty Fallacy doesn’t go both ways. Though it might seem to be the irony of ironies, those who revel in being brutally honest are usually extremely sensitive when it comes to things said about them. “You’re just being mean!” they scream, as they struggle to choke back the torrents of tears and baleful sobbing that are sure to follow. Try it and see! You’ll wound them ever so deeply while simultaneously exposing the fact that their so-called brutal honesty was nothing more than their ego overcompensating for their insecurities.

While I typically don’t advocate capriciously harming others, I’ve always seen those who engage in the Honesty Fallacy as bullies, and bullies deserve the retribution that they inspire in their victims. And for those who think that someone can only be a bully if they’re violent, keep in mind that verbal assault is violence too … that’s why it’s called an “assault.”

*Artwork generously donated by Steven Michael Pace of Flint, MI.