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The Internet Loves Giving Advice. A Lot of It Isn't for You.

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I was just scrolling through my TikTok, and immediately got bombarded with about five videos back to back full of relationship advice.

One of the videos was titled “5 Signs They’re Not That Into You” and the person talking mentioned how if they text you later on in the day or have gaps between response times, they aren’t willing to make time for you so you need to swipe left or dump them or whatever colloquial term you want to use.

I sat with this because it didn’t feel right. I take a while to text back for multiple reasons:

1. I have attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) so if I open that message and don’t immediately respond, I probably unintentionally forgot.

2. I try not to be glued to my phone all day talking to people because it negatively affects my mental health.

3. I like to talk to people when I have the mental capacity to, and I’m not always able to just carve that capacity out if I don’t have it.

Thus sometimes my response times can be two minutes, two hours, or sadly two days (ADHD is a jerk), but not because I’m not interested or that I don’t care. If someone who was waiting for me to text back were to listen to that Tik Tok and internalize that advice, they’d be completely wrong.

There’s a lot of well-meaning advice on the internet, and to an extent I wish it was out there when I was younger so I wouldn’t have to experience all the lessons I was forced to learn. But I do think we need to realize that not all advice on the internet is meant for us. By internalizing every piece of advice we hear in regards to life, career, love, or even health, we could cause unnecessary stress and anxiety, especially when you are someone who is naturally anxious. 

Discernment is important when it comes to online advice because not every piece of well-intentioned advice is meant for us, even when it comes to stories you may read here on The Mighty. The internet is a great place because now people can speak to their life experience in hopes of sharing their wisdom and it does help people but everyone’s situation, brains, relationships, and lives are different. You don’t want to cause unnecessary duress (especially if you’re an over thinker like me) by watching a Tik Tok titled “Here’s Why They Aren’t Talking to You,” and it’s a bunch of worst case scenarios. Sure, it could be true. They could also be napping. Your anxiety is usually liar, so don’t feed the beast.

Next time you see a Tik Tok or Twitter thread giving out life advice, consider the following two questions:

1. Does this situation mirror my own?

Sure, they may know someone who isn’t texting back and you may as well, but are there any similarities beyond that? Do you have enough information to really draw comparisons? 

2. What authority do they have on this topic?

This is especially important for health advice. Are they professional? No, not a coach (no disrespect to coaches out there), but a doctor or medical professional? What makes them an authority on this topic? There are a lot of pseudo Tik Tok doctors out there spreading misinformation, so consulting a trusted professional is so important with anything you hear on the internet.

I’m happy that the internet has so much information available to us. So many people I know have come to some solid conclusions because of people talking about their own experiences online. That being said, we need to remember that not every drop of information is meant for us, and it’s up to us to think critically and decide what is.

Getty image by Maskot

Originally published: May 11, 2022
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