Many years ago, when I was but a teenager, my cousin, a year older or so, told me something stupid about women. It was preposterously wrong — but I was thirteen, and I accepted it as fact. Fortunately it never came up again, but it became a part of my internalized knowledge. Similarly, an idiot ex-girlfriend told me something once — and I never questioned it, because like the first example, it seemed logical enough. Neither thing made much of an impact of my life — it was just one of those things I assumed but never thought about, like bullshit e-mail forwards.
At some point as an adult, I’ve realized those and several other things I used to think were absolutely ridiculous. Neither person was an expert in the field: my cousin was just as clueless as I was about women (actually, more so, in retrospect), and the girlfriend was dumb as a box of rocks. It just seemed plausible, and there was no sense in investigating or questioning either thing. They weren’t being malicious with their advice-giving, they were just ignorant and loud.
Because people like to say stuff. They like to appear intelligent, or wise, or they genuinely believe the stupid shit they say.
One of the greatest advances in my personal well-being was when I realized people who are critical of me may well be full of it, also. Think about it: what puts them in a situation to actually criticize me, or my behavior, or my choices? Are they without sin, or flaws, or free of mistakes? Unlikely enough as to be absurd.
It doesn’t have to be malicious — it just has to be wrong. But it can often be malicious.
People don’t just like to say stuff, they also like to say mean stuff. This is pretty clear from the abundance of gossip sites, magazines, and tabloids. This is clear watching politics — hell, the Democrat nominee likes to bash average Americans as often as she can get away with (deplorables, basement dwellers, who knows what else) — and it’s certainly clear on social media. Some people like to criticize from afar — taking anonymous shots, or behind-your-back-shots — but they like to take the shot.
Imagine the dumbest person you know saying the meanest thing about you. Most likely you shrug and let it go. Now imagine the smartest person you know holds the same opinion. Is it suddenly valid based on the source? Absolutely not. But the smart person can certainly be wrong. Otherwise geniuses would have figured everything possible out by now merely by taking guesses (because they can’t be wrong — all guesses are valid!). For a humorous example: the best actor in the world shouldn’t be allowed to run the safety department at a nuclear power plant. They have certain skills, sure, but being the best at one thing does not qualify for another. Why does it then qualify them to judge a person, or even give advice?
It doesn’t — so take your advice, and your facts, and everything else, with a grain of salt. Use your instincts. Use your good sense. When someone tells you something crazy stupid (“pigs have thirty minute orgasms lol”) go ahead and assume that person is mistaken.