Do These Common Pieces of Advice Actually Work?

The Internet is great at giving advice — but that doesn't necessarily mean that the advice it gives is actually good. A recent AskReddit thread, however, draws attention to this very important fact by identifying common pieces of advice that don't actually work. The entire thread should probably be required reading for most of us, because let's face it: “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” is extremely questionable medical advice. I mean, yes, apples are good for you — but it takes a heck of a lot more than a Granny Smith to keep you healthy.

As AskReddit threads are wont to do, this one evolved a little bit over the course of its long and illustrious life; as one Redditor put it, “ITT: Advice no one actually gives, just old popular sayings.” The line between adages and advice can be pretty indistinct, though, so I still think tackling these sayings is useful. We could all use a few reminders that “advice” doesn't guarantee success.

I've pulled out 14 of what I think are the most helpful instances of debunked advice below. Use them wisely; you never know when you're going to have to give yourself a wake-up call. Head on over to Reddit for more.

1. The Power of “No”

Accepting “no” and being able to say “no” are two very important skills to develop. No means no, people.

2. Dealing with Bullies

Sadly, dealing with bullies is never as easy as “just ignore them and they'll go away.” It's not as easy as “just stand up to them and they'll leave you alone,” either. And even worse, “go tell an adult they'll help stop it” doesn't always work either. It should, though, so let's all take this one to heart: If you see bullying happening, or if someone comes to you about it, for love of all that is holy, at least try to do something about it. That's the only way we'll be able to enact the change we need to make it a thing of the past.

3. On Public Speaking

I feel like maybe this one only works for children under the age of eight who have to stand up and make presentations in class. When you're that age, underwear is hilarious.

4. How to Get What You Want

To be fair, patience is a virtue — but you also need to be proactive. No one is just going to hand you the things you want; you have to get them for yourself.

5. Concerning Your Finances

In an ideal world, this would be true. Alas, we do not live in an ideal world. Maybe we can get there one day, though.

6. Confidence

Confidence is definitely worth cultivating — but simply telling someone to “be confident” is useless. Instead, suggest tangible actions they can perform that will help them develop confidence.


The jury is kind of still out on this one, but there are a number of scientifically-backed reasons why you actually should go to bed angry after having a fight. What a lot of it comes down to is the fact that your brain doesn't function well when it's tired — which makes you more likely to do or say things you'll regret. Plus, your brain can actually solve problems while you're sleeping; if you turn in when you're upset about something, you may have figured out how to deal with it by the time you wake up in the morning. Not too shabby, brain!

8. Repetition

Or at least, don't just do the same thing over and over again hoping for a different result. Try tackling the problem from a different angle instead — trial and error works far better.

9. This:

The struggle is real.

10. On Growing Up

And the worst part is, by that point, they're not just assholes because they don't know any better. They know better and they're still assholes. People suck.

11. The Key to Working Retail

This one only becomes a problem when the customer him or herself is convinced that the customer is always right.

12. All Apologies

Don't apologize when there's nothing to apologize for. Do apologize if you did something wrong—and while you're at it, learn to identify when you've done something wrong. You will go far.

13. Being Honest

Honesty is often the best policy — but not always. It doesn't, for example, excuse you from saying jerk-tastic things under the guise of “just being honest.” Sometimes, it's best to keep your trap shut.

In spite of all these failed or inaccurate pieces of advice, though, at the end of the day, here's one you always can count on:

14. Have Some Salt

Sounds about right.

Images: Kirinohana/Flickr; Giphy (4)