Ask Matt Labash

Ask Matt Labash: An anti-advice advice column, or why you should not seek advice from advice columnists

EDITOR’S NOTE: Have a burning sensation? Consult your doctor. Have a burning question for Matt Labash? Submit it here.

Matt,  I was shocked to read an article in the Atlantic surveying developments in the area of advice columns for men. The shock was not that I was reading the Atlantic, but that you were not mentioned as a man’s advice columnist. Some other hipsters were mentioned. Anyway, the article wanted me — a man — to be upset that men’s advice columns tend to be “practical and unemotional” and focused on the “superficial” —  and this is a national problem or something.  Now, when I think of practical, unemotional and superficial, I’m thinking Matt Labash. But according to the Atlantic, what I — a man — really should want is weepy, unfocused and serious advice. So, my question for you is this: are you making pussies of us all? Or, are we not pussies because we read your column? Help me please, I got no place else to go! — Sydney (and I’m using the man’s version of that name, even though I should use an “I” — oh, god, I need help)

First, apologies for my protracted absence and to the legions of readers demanding my return, even if they didn’t have time to write letters to that effect. (The deepest hurts are often left unvoiced.) I do have a real job, of sorts, which had me out in the real world, or what’s left of it, fraternizing with Bronies and buglers. Also, I was taking some time for personal reflection, shopping for fast-wick workout gear, and trying to get my body rock-hard for when the bottom inevitably falls out of journalism, so that I can pursue exciting new career opportunities as a Zumba instructor. If you haven’t heard, they’re shaking up the circuit down at Curves!

But yes, you are correct to be troubled by anyone who takes the position of “men’s advice columnist” seriously enough to write an entire prescriptive article scolding them for their shortcomings. So it did not wound me in the least to be omitted from such a piece. For I do not write advice for men. I write advice for people. People who just so happen to have either penises or vaginas. Both, if they’re lucky.

By my count, I’ve written about 110 of these babies. So you might think that I’ve learned a thing or two about human nature in that time. Well, you’d be thinking wrong. Because most of the people who write to a guy in a fishing hat on a red-meat political website break down into roughly one of three categories: