A Field Guide to Problem Solvers on the Internet

So you have a problem! Don’t worry though, since the invention of the internet there’s millions of people waiting to say homophobic, illogical, and vaguely anti-Semitic things on your favorite bicycle message board while asking to see pictures of naked women when you seek their solace. This guide will give help you classify each type of adviser you shall find and should be as helpful as the people it mocks.

An hypothetical problem:

“My girlfriend was hit by a car last week and she’s in the hospital. I’m not sure what I should be doing for her. She’s talking and everything but her parents are really worried and won’t tell me what’s wrong. Should I talk to her? What should I do?”

The Pity-Party- “I’m SOOOOO sorry! Have you try drinking tea?” The Pity-Party excretes empathy at twice the lethal dosage and wants to know how bad they feel about it. They know how lonely a person looking for advice on the world wide web can be and want you to know they’re looking out for you even if it’s not in any tangible or helpful way. They’ve tried to cure feline leukemia with hugs and when that failed bought 20 more cats just to try it again. They hope some of their human warmth will help lighten your load but this being the Internet, you probably have three other windows open where middle-schoolers are calling you gay for being bad at video games or for talking to women. Having a complete stranger pretend to be your friend for 45 seconds isn’t probably going to be much comfort.

The Magician- “Invent a time machine. Stop the car from hitting your girlfriend. Problem solved.” The reverse of the Pity-Party is someone who is dead certain there’s ALWAYS a solution to your problem. They’ve seen enough episodes of MacGyver to know an assortment of household appliances can fix even the most intricate problems from relationship woes to the deficit. When presented with a non-technical with no owner manual to fall back on, they’ll start coming up with innovative solutions which show that not only have they never been able to hold a conversation with a waitress, they’ve also learned physics from Harry Potter. They’re so over the edge that their only question when you invite them to a funeral is if you prefer a Christian or Zombie resurrection. How they’ve survived long enough to type these things on to a computer shows they’re not even crazy enough to follow their advice which should be enough of a reason not to follow it.

The Columbo- “I’ve never had a problem with my girlfriend… are you sure she’s at the hospital?” Whenever you ask for anonymous help there’s always one guy who thinks it’s step one in an elaborate plan to steal the crown jewels. They take one look at the situation, quickly assess it to be untrue, and start asking questions assuming they’ll be able to pull the thread from your web of lies to show the world you made up something on the internet. Why they’re certain you’re a liar whose problems with your coffeemaker is actually part of a plot for world domination is never clear. I’ve been accused of lying about how many bookstores were in the town I was living. How I would profit from such a lie, even in an Internet argument where cheap pride is almost always the goal, has never been clear to me. Hopefully it involved air ships. Speaking of which…

The 1-uper- “My girlfriend was killed when she was hit by an airship.” On the internet, there’s always someone who has gone through the exact same circumstances as you who would be glad to tell you how much worse their situation was. No matter how specific your problem of getting your face covered in honey at the Church ice cream social and than stung by bees while making eye contact with your crush whose laughing at your predicament, there’s always someone who had that happen with wasps. Even though 1-upers have existed since the time that there were two cavemen comparing how many sides their wheels had there’s still no proper defensive technique to handle the situation. Or at least no adequate solution since dueling has fallen out of favor.

The Savior- “ YES! Talk to her!” The Savior is the one brave soul willing to tell you to do the hard thing you already knew you’re suppose to do. In an ocean of madness, you can count on a solitary voice to point out the painfully obvious. Your problem is probably harder to solve in execution of the solution than in actually finding the solution. Unfortunately their precise logic, expertise in the field, and plentiful evidence for the correct solution still means you’ll actually have to do something. Maybe you’re just better off talking to the Pity-Party again.

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