Thursday, October 07, 2010

Advice columns

So I have a guilty pleasure.
I enjoy reading advice columns in newspapers and magazines. Not the sleazy sex columns where every man seems to write in about the same thing. Ugh.
No, I enjoy reading what people write in, asking for advice to their personal problems. Maybe I get a kick out of trying to imagine what my advice would be and giggling when I'm off-base (Hey if Pooja Bedi can do it...). The problem is that the main paper I read doesn't have this kind of a column and I'll be damned if I go spend Rs. 100 just to satisfy my idle curiosity.
So I hit the motherlode the other day via an accidental link to Dear Prudence in Slate Magazine and then her archive section. I waded through all of 2010 columns including the live chat which often ran into multiple pages and enjoyed myself immensely. Between the Bridezilla mails and the one about etiquette (how long can I put off writing thank you notes etc), I also noticed a lot of mails about hurt feelings caused by friends and family members. Whether it was the mother-in-law who displays a wedding photo (without the bride - her DIL - in it) or the friend who doesn't invite her closest friend for her wedding / party / house-warming; the mails all spoke about people who have hurt the writer's feelings in some way making him / her (oh, alright they were mostly female) bitter and angry. While the advice columnist (sanely) told the writers to either speak up or shut up, I got thinking.
As someone who often gets foot-in-mouth disease and then worries her apologies sounds insincere, I also know that many-a-times people have no clue that what they've said may have come off as hurtful. While often, the recepient is too stunned to respond (hey its happened to me too - I was just flabbergasted that someone could be so rude! And to me no less!), I also think people should be called out on their gaffes immediately, if not soon after. No way should it fester and weigh on someone's mind and then erupt in a totally inappropriate time on the clueless, albeit rude person. Of course, if there is malice involved, an apology may not be forthcoming but at least you got it off your chest and sounded assertive too.
Now I just re-read this post and I think I am sounding a lot like Prudence so am jazzing off. Not to read all the columns of 2009 :)