As much as I read articles and blogposts on the internet, there’s one particular type of post of that I refuse to read: the classic, and all too common “avoid these mistakes” post.
Because, I don’t like people telling me what not to do, and I don’t like focusing on the negative.
If you tell me not to do something, I’ll do it just to spite you. Don’t tell me what not to do.
Who are you anyway?
I understand most people do try to write such posts to be informative, perhaps even helpful. But, they are being informative in a negative way: informing out of fear. Fear of failure and fear making mistakes.
I don’t like that. So I refuse to read it.
I refuse to associate with it. Avoid these mistakes? Why? What if I don’t?
What if I read your article and then I go and make the mistake that you just told me not to make?
Then I feel stupid. Thank you, you made feel stupid.
I don’t like feeling stupid.
I get it, I get it. You probably meant it in a helpful way. But, you framed it negatively. With negative words, like: “don’t” and “mistakes”.
Neither of those words sound fun to me.
Maybe you had good intentions. Maybe, these are mistakes you made and you learned from them – that’s cool. That’s good material actually. Please tell me about it. Please tell me what you learned.
I love to hear what other people learned, that way I can learn to. If this is your intent, then please do, but do it right. I’d love to hear how you fucked up and learned from it. But, don’t tell me not to make the same mistakes.
Tell me what you learned from them, so I can learn too. Then, if when I do the same mistake, the lesson will be instant: I can instantly process it, because I already know what you learned when you made the mistake.
Maybe they are just mistakes you’ve seen other people make. So, they are common mistakes. In that case, I’m probably going to make them anyway, even if I read your article and you told me “not to” make them. So, let me make them. Don’t tell me “not to” (or “don’t”).
Don’t try to rob me of my learning experiences. I very much like my mistakes. I need them. They are a part of me.
So, if you write a post or article titled: “7 Mistakes You Should Avoid When…[whatever]” I can guarantee you this: I won’t read it.
If you wanted me to – then you just made a mistake right there.
At the end of the day, your “Mistakes to avoid…” articles just read like rules to me. And if there’s any rule I’ve learned in life its this:
Rules are made to be broken.
Similarly, mistakes are meant to be made…
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3 thoughts on “Avoid These Mistakes… Actually, On Second Thought, Don’t Avoid Them”
Hm. This makes me think that besides reading for fun, the best use I get out of informative posts like the ones you’re talking about is: I try hard, and I fail, and then remember “oh yes, **** wrote about this and this is what he learnt from it”, and then I have inspiration.
I agree; I greatly prefer it when writers take the things-i-have-learned-from-doing-x approach rather than the you-should-not-do-this approach. It’s not just about what one says it’s about how one says it? If blooper reals have taught me anything it’s that sometimes mistakes are great, not grave.
*sigh* Most people my age are making out with the girlfriend right now. I’m on the internet reading, and responding on random blogs; FML.
Nice thoughts on the blooper real! That’s a good one.