The Cold Stoicism of Advice Columns for Men

Advice columns for men, however, seem not to have made the leap from proscriptive notions of rectitude to the smart-older-sister vibe of advice for women. In GQ and Esquire and even Maxim, which are full of Q&A-format advice for readers, situations are often posed in a joking tone and answered as if the writer were the dude from the Dos Equis commercials and the ultimate ethical standard is masculinity rather than humanity. “How to be a man” literature is the new conduct literature: it’s not that men haven’t cared about ideals of masculinity before now, but the idea verges on obsession these days, cf. everything from Shia LaBoeuf’s resignation note to the fact that someone greenlit How to Be a Gentleman. It’s a whole genre and evidently a popular one—but, while advice columns are the delicious and healthy snack of things to devour on the Internet, it matters for men and women alike that advice columns for men evolve, not by abandoning their gentlemanly tone but by choosing the right questions to answer.

That’s one reason why I read waaaaay more of Carolyn Hax than anything in men’s magazines.

The Cold Stoicism of Advice Columns for Men

My friend Mario Joyner has a funny line. It’s not something he does in his act, but he’s a brilliantly funny guy about life. The wedding gown, the celebration, the aggrandizement of the woman in this amazing outfit at the wedding—she’s telling the world “I got one of these motherfuckers to act right.”

Carolyn Hax: Weddings bring out the worst in an unmarried couple – The Washington Post

Plus, I wonder whether you’ve actually just talked about it in a non-charged setting and, if you have, why one or both of you isn’t accepting the outcome of that talk as your current reality. “Fighting” is really just a nickname for an attempt to renegotiate what you already know is the truth but don’t want to accept.

Oh, snap. Carolyn Hax bringin’ some real talk.

Carolyn Hax: Weddings bring out the worst in an unmarried couple – The Washington Post

2013 Double Feature: Her / Don Jon / The Dissolve.

Samantha and Barbara are idealized, objectified versions of women based on the main characters’ tastes. In Don Jon, Gordon-Levitt’s Jon repeatedly calls Barbara the most perfect thing—note the “thing”—he’s ever seen, an evaluation based primarily on her physical resemblance to the women in the pornography he spends hours watching each day. In Her, Samantha is literally the ideal woman for Joaquin Phoenix’s sad-sack Theodore Twombly, an intuitive piece of technology that adapts to him, without him even realizing she’s doing it. She’s everything he wants, without him having to say, or even understand, what he wants.

Jerry Seinfeld on how to be funny without sex and swearing

And:

To this day, Seinfeld still marks crosses on a calendar, keeping regular hours (albeit relaxed ones: most days, he says, he’ll meet a friend for a two-hour breakfast) and spending 20 minutes a day doing Transcendental Meditation, which is the only topic to jolt him from his default nonchalance into real enthusiasm: “I could do the whole interview about TM, to be honest, but we’d just lose everybody. I’ll describe it very simply: it’s like you have a phone, and somebody gives you a charger for it. And so now you can recover from this exhausting experience of being a human, twice a day. It’s deep rest. Now that’s something that can help people. As opposed to this idiotic calendar thing.”

Jerry Seinfeld on how to be funny without sex and swearing

Any time you’re trying to explain something based on what broad categories of people do, it’s time to stop, back up, stick to the facts at hand, and ask yourself why you’re reaching so far to get a more appealing answer.

Carolyn Hax. My Hax tag is the best.

Any gifts and time you give to family members are investments in them as people, vs. investments in your relationship with them. It’s “I want the best for you” vs. “I want the best out of you” — a fine distinction, but an important one.

There’s no need for you to “decide” on one feeling. If we don’t allow ourselves multiple, confusing, even conflicting feelings, then how else do we learn to deal with people when the going gets gray?

Part of my drinking was so much about trying not to feel things, to not feel how I actually felt, and the terrible thing about being so hidden is if people tell you they love you… it kinda doesn’t sink in. You always think, if you’re hiding things, How could you know who I am? You don’t know who I am, so how could you love me? Saying who I am, and trying to be as candid as possible as part of practicing the principles, has permitted me to actually connect with people for the first time in my life.

Small Talk | The Point Magazine

Exchanging small talk with people we’ve just met may be an unfortunate necessity, but with people we already know, it seems to suggest that they’re people to whom we have nothing to say. And yet if small talk is just talk that’s idle, insignificant and without stated purpose, then surely a substantial portion of the chatter that goes on between couples, friends and (or especially) families must count as small. Banality, however, need not always be insignificant. There’s nothing earth-shattering, usually, about missing the bus, what you ate for lunch or the new dress you just bought, but these are just the mundane tidbits that make up so much of the talk between intimates. In fact, such conversations about trivialities can arguably happen only with those close to us—only the members of our inner circle do we presume to burden with the minutiae of our lives.

Small Talk | The Point Magazine

Life Lessons with Kareem Abdul-Jabbar – 20 Things I Wish I’d Known When I Was 30 – Esquire.

Career is never as important as family. The better you are at your job, the more you’re rewarded, financially and spiritually, by doing it. You know how to solve problems for which you receive praise and money. Home life is more chaotic. Solving problems is less prescriptive and no one’s applauding or throwing money if you do it right. That’s why so many young professionals spend more time at work with the excuse, “I’m sacrificing for my family.” Bullshit. Learn to embrace the chaos of family life and enjoy the small victories.

How Code-Switching Explains The World : Code Switch : NPR

You rush your mom or whomever off the phone in some less formal syntax (“Yo, I’mma holler at you later,”), hang up and get back to work. Then you look up and you see your co-workers looking at you and wondering who the hell you’d morphed into for the last few minutes. That right there? That’s what it means to code-switch.

My dad and my sister are experts at (subconsciously) stepping up the Southern accent ever so slightly when the situation calls for it. I’m pretty sure I do it, too, but it’s quite possible everyone sees right through me.

How Code-Switching Explains The World : Code Switch : NPR

Take the hard feelings away, and this is the right thing to do. Put the feelings back and it hurts like hell, but the right thing to do hasn’t changed.