Behind the columns: Advice writers tell all
January 8, 2019 4:16 PM   Subscribe

Here's What It's Really Like To Be An Internet Advice Columnist The people behind your favorite internet advice columns tell all. Includes Daniel Ortberg, Captain Awkward, Nicole Cliffe, Dr. Nerdlove, Jolie Kerr, and hosted by Alison Green of ask-a-manager fame. All very different columnists, who talk about their weirdest letters, recurring themes, how to get your letter answered- and more.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis (29 comments total) 46 users marked this as a favorite
 
Ooo I was going to post this! Thanks for beating me to it.

Related listening: Han and Matt Know It All with the best and worst letter writers of the year.
posted by Emmy Rae at 4:23 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Fun!
posted by k8t at 4:23 PM on January 8, 2019


I love Daniel Ortberg's writing and his empathy for the people in his columns but I find his scripts to be awful! That's what I love about Ask A Manager and Captain Awkward, their excellent scripts. You could say what they write verbatim and not sound weird.

I hope this leads to more advice column exchange programs.
posted by Emmy Rae at 4:32 PM on January 8, 2019 [5 favorites]


The one about the co-worker stealing spicy food is just insane!
posted by Enemy of Joy at 4:43 PM on January 8, 2019 [17 favorites]


It’s honestly amazing to me, though, that we have more data points on raising kids now than on essentially anything else that isn’t growing wheat, and we still haven’t figured out what works.
Heh.
posted by clawsoon at 4:50 PM on January 8, 2019 [11 favorites]


Re: co-worker stealing spicy food - the update is also insane!
posted by rogerroger at 5:00 PM on January 8, 2019 [17 favorites]


Emmy Rae, what does "script" mean in this context? My advice "column" consumption is mostly via the Dear Prudence podcast and maybe this is text-specific? I don't think I've ever seen it before though.
posted by valrus at 5:48 PM on January 8, 2019 [2 favorites]


Suggestions as to what to say - scripts for a certain conversation that the letter writer hopes to have.
posted by sagc at 5:55 PM on January 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


Script as in "here's what to say to the difficult person."
posted by jenfullmoon at 5:56 PM on January 8, 2019 [3 favorites]


Daniel’s scripts do tend to the wordy and unrealistic- He’s still leagues better than Yoffe though.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 6:05 PM on January 8, 2019 [4 favorites]


I'm such a huge fan of Daniel Ortberg and Nicole Cliffe's friendship, as presented on social media, so seeing both of them in the same thing is always a joy.
posted by ITheCosmos at 6:11 PM on January 8, 2019 [15 favorites]


This was a fun read. Thanks!

*opens notebook, adds "jizzcliner" to the "Portmant-no" list*
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 6:17 PM on January 8, 2019 [13 favorites]


This looks great, and I am going to read it. But it is missing my favorite columnist, Heather Havrilesky (Ask Polly, Rabbit Blog, Suck.com). She is really good.
posted by seasparrow at 6:29 PM on January 8, 2019 [13 favorites]


I really like the scripts in the Do Friendship podcast, Jenn and Trin are such a joy to listen to that I always want to do friendship at the problem.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 7:26 PM on January 8, 2019


I saw the term jizzcliner and I reared backwards against my pillow with enough force to smack my head against the wall.

Then, because I cannot make good choices, I clicked the link.

I. I cannot even. Straight women, why do you put up with this.

the jizzcliner needs to go to the dump forthwith and the boyfriend ought to join it
posted by sciatrix at 7:29 PM on January 8, 2019 [12 favorites]


jizzcliner

The answer to every single one of those questions should be, "Stop cleaning up after men." jfc
posted by Mavri at 7:39 PM on January 8, 2019 [20 favorites]


*opens notebook, adds "jizzcliner" to the "Portmant-no" list*

But "drilldo" is just fine?!!
posted by fatbird at 12:07 AM on January 9, 2019 [4 favorites]


I can’t believe Care & Feeding doesn’t get enough questions! Now that I have a kid of my own I’ve been reading it obsessively. Although, most of her letters and answers are about relationships and not “How to take care of a newborn who doesn’t understand that the answer to all her life problems is sleep oh my god why don’t you just go to sleep please I beg you”.
posted by like_neon at 1:20 AM on January 9, 2019 [7 favorites]


It looks like this article JUST MISSED being able to include the most bonkers ask-a-manager situation I've seen in a long time. I have seen all of social media (at least, all of "women on social media who I follow") rise up in a collective "oh HELL NO."

Mefites, I present my coworkers complained that the look of my breasts post-mastectomy is making them uncomfortable.
posted by rmd1023 at 5:55 AM on January 9, 2019 [26 favorites]


rmd1023, wo-o-ow to that letter. Wow.

The spicy lunch thief was a caper of personal ridiculousness, but that one is like the tip of an iceberg. Because there are NO reasons I can conceive of, driving the complaints, that are not monoliths of sexist nonsense. Wow.

Thanks for posting, Homo neanderthalensis!

and again I fight my impulse to abbreviate and italicize posters who use scientific names as screennames. The conditioning runs deep.
posted by cage and aquarium at 6:03 AM on January 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


I still have not googled drilldo because I live in hope that someone - SOMEONE - is just going to post an explanation here/there and then I won't have to. Have some compassion for my search history, friends!
posted by lydhre at 6:19 AM on January 9, 2019


Lydhre, it’s a certain apelike haircut. Short for “mandrill ‘do”
posted by Sterros at 6:45 AM on January 9, 2019 [6 favorites]


That post-mastectomy Ask A Manager letter sent me into RAGES. Like, I hope her update is, "...And then I just decided to BURN THE BUILDING DOWN AND SALT THE EARTH." Like...who thinks that behavior is okay? Who thinks they are entitled to make demands about another person's breasts?!?!? WTFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFFF?
posted by Aquifer at 11:48 AM on January 9, 2019 [12 favorites]


I still have not googled drilldo because I live in hope that someone - SOMEONE - is just going to post an explanation here/there and then I won't have to.

It's a dildo mounted on a power drill. (They explain it in the podcast.)
posted by Margalo Epps at 1:33 PM on January 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


Ask A Manager's having a very lively start to the year. In additional to the post-mastectomy letter, there's also I didn't answer the phone on my day off and my boss freaked out and told everyone I was suicidal.
posted by meowzilla at 5:13 PM on January 9, 2019 [3 favorites]


Ask A Manager's having a very lively start to the year. In additional to the post-mastectomy letter, there's also I didn't answer the phone on my day off and my boss freaked out and told everyone I was suicidal.

Ever since graduating and being done with my latest round of surgeries I’ve been in a really really calm place- low blood pressure 2k19 year for sure- but that letter (and the mastectomy one) put me straight into FLAMES ON THE SIDE OF MY FACE levels of rage for both letter writers.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 5:56 PM on January 9, 2019 [1 favorite]


Omg that missed phone call / suicide one... when I need a mental health day I often go out and tend my garden for a few hours, leaving the phone in the house. I can't imagine walking thirty feet back into the house and discovering this shitshow. I really hope she has a proper HR rep. I also really hope she goes out on stress leave / disability and does her job search from there. I couldn't work with someone that level of poor judgment again, especially if they were in a position to review my work performance.
posted by vignettist at 7:43 PM on January 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


I was initially skeptical of the article premise, but that was a great set of questions and an even better set of answers. It’s almost like they’re pros at asking and answering questions, respectively.
posted by mantecol at 8:28 PM on January 9, 2019 [2 favorites]


I might have said this before, but I find that Daniel Ortberg has some weird blind spots around parenting that frustrate me so much. There was one letter from a parent of a kid in private school, who mentioned that for practical reasons X, Y and Z, they couldn’t send the kid to the public school; it was logistically really difficult. And the question was something about volunteering at the school they also paid through the nose for the kid to attend. The response was something like “Actually, you should really send your kid to public school.” And it was so...unhelpful and impractical as to be unkind. It didn’t answer the question. Why was it even published? (Also, once his answer about some med school related conundrum was based on a fundamental misunderstanding of when Match Day occurs. Which there’s probably no reason for him to know, all else being equal, but he needs some kind of editorial shepherding that’s missing.)

So I’m grateful for Care and Feeding, because even though it has two distinct columnists, they seem to fill a gap in the Slate Advice World.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 8:47 PM on January 11, 2019


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