Advice, Politics and Parenting

Soleil Sleeps

I thought about writing a post mortem election post on what the Democrats could have done better with their online communications campaign (starting with their relentless spamming of my email address in spite of several opt-out requests). Then I decided not to. After my Mashable post on the two party’s approaches, did I really need to offer this unsolicited criticism? No one at the Democrats is asking for my advice.

As a new parent, I am getting quite a bit of advice right now. Some of it is paid (pediatrician, lactatian, etc.), some of it is requested advice from friends who have been there, and most of it is unsolicited from family, friends, and online community members.

Don’t get me wrong. I generally hear people out. It’s important for people to share their experiences, and really, parenting is such a great life journey, it’s hard not to… I understand that.

That doesn’t mean listening to everyone makes sense. There are no absolutes. Especially when someone has no experience in a situation — like me and politics. I have never run a political campaign, I only get online communications as a generalist. While I certainly have some experiences to share (and I kept it to SM experience only in my Mashable post), who am I to tell Tim Kaine and company how to run an election? Opinions like this are a dime a dozen on Twitter.

Experience-based advice is better. But, it’s important to note, no singular experience is 100% right. For example, everyone told me a baby couldn’t turn itself sleeping on its back until it was roughly three months old; that babies enjoyed sleeping on their backs. Soleil turned herself on day two and hasn’t stopped since (no arm swaddling for her). Like her daddy, she likes sleeping on her side.

Point being, advice — particularly when it is an unsolicited unexperienced absolutism — rarely has value, nor is it usually welcome. Further, when we do have experience, isn’t it best to couch it as just that? Something like, “Hey, this is just my experience.”

This is what’s wrong with online communications today, the amount of pontificators offering absolutist advice. That’s why I wrote last week’s punk social media post, which pointed out a general groundswell of discontent with social media “rules” today. We have a lot to add when it’s a shared knowledge, it goes off the rails when it becomes an enforced dictate.

What if we are right? This seems like an obvious question at this point. The answer: “You can lead the horse to the water…” Some people learn by their own experiences. After we offer our experiences, isn’t it best to let them do just that? And cheer them on if they find a different way? Or allow them to fail gracefully without rubbing it in?

Just some thoughts on advice. And until someone at the DNC asks me, I’ll let the Democrats judge their own results (but I would be delighted not to be included in their email lists anymore).

2 Replies to “Advice, Politics and Parenting”

  1. Hey Geoff,

    You’re right about that. All babies are different, much like adults. And much like campaigns.

    Babies perfectly size up to social media. We can crunch numbers all we want, but each on is fundamentally different. So, most outside assessments are partly uneducated. And that is okay.

    The assessments that do work sometimes, well, those are different. If a baby suddenly gains 100 pounds, for example, we can safely conclude there is something wrong.

    I suppose that is why I am largely independent these days.

    All my best,
    Rich

  2. Parenting is like golf: even if someone is horrible at it or completely inexperienced, they will offer help with your swing.
    But political analysis is rather another matter… Not in that everyone has an opinion, it’s just that not everyone offers solutions. The DNC may never ask you, but as a reader? I’d love to hear your post-game analysis. :)

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