Beware of blowing off steam on the Internet. Even if you tell people to avoid giving you advice, they will give it anyway. Unsolicited advice can often come off as patronizing and condescending. At its mildest, it is often utterly uninformed and useless to the person for whom it is allegedly given.
Advice is just one of the many counterproductive riders people attach to expressions of alleged sympathy. For your edification, here are some responses to some of the ones more commonly heard by yours truly.
I understand that in many cases, the people expressing such sentiments are trying to be sympathetic in face of common microaggressions and insidious *-isms with which they are unfamiliar. However, such statements simultaneously declare privilege without owning up to it. Plus, it feels as if they are putting it on me for noticing and talking about it rather than the world for being, well, full of microaggressions and *-isms.
It is is just fine and in fact preferable to express sympathy without riders attached to it.
Wow, how do you meet such awful people?
At the police station. Through friends-of-friends on Facebook. By participating in organized atheism and rising within its ranks. In college. School-assigned mandatory reading. Village-Voice-affiliated papers. Alt-sex events. Dubious virtue of birth. Dating sites. Gay clubs. Shall I go on?
The bottom line is that awful people are everywhere. Acting as if that isn’t so makes you sound like you think that I go out of my way to meet terrible people or have terrible judgment in terms of the spaces in which I exist. I don’t. Or, at least in the case of the former, I don’t complain about it because I knew what I was doing.
Alternative: “Those people are awful.”
It sucks that you deal with such bizarre behavior.
Jerks being jerks is not “bizarre.” It is my everyday reality. Treating it like it is some weird thing is incredibly Othering and alienating and a product of privilege to boot. It’s like calling me “exotic” and expecting me to treat it as a compliment. I do not doubt that my mere existence is an “exotic” curiosity to you and yes, I am sure the behavior I sometimes vent about is “bizarre”-seeming if you’ve never experienced it. I’m well aware that I’m generally an outsider in society and that my experiences are therefore outside most people’s experiences.
It might be nice, for once, to not be reminded, especially since it serves no purpose for you to do so.
Alternative: “That sort of thing doesn’t happen to me. It sucks that it happens to you. It shouldn’t be that way.”
I would never stand for such behavior; I’d’ve done [x, y & z].
I’m sure you would have yelled, punched, thrashed, or otherwise made your displeasure known. Consider that it is impractical or even impossible for some people in some situations to make their displeasure known, nor should it be anyone’s obligation to respond like that.
The cost versus potential gain of doing so has to be taken into consideration. I’ve been known to hollaback at street harassers but I’d put my money on them resuming their harassment after I’d shown them what was what. I felt good about it and have stories to tell, but I don’t know if I’ve actually had some kind of direct impact on them.
Alternative: If you’ve actually done the thing that you’re advocating others should do, you can speak to your own experience without giving unwanted advice by simply stating “This one time, I did xyz.” If you’ve never actually stood up for yourself in the way you’re describing, you should probably just shut the hell up.
Well, if I had been there, I would have [x, y, & z].
The only time someone came to help me with a street harasser was that one time a man yelled “I’d love to suck on them titties!” at me when I was standing outside of my Seattle hostel. I yelled back at him; when the front desk worker heard a ruckus, he decided to step in. I was doing just fine but appreciated that he had intervened. I was also surprised, since in the past, no one had ever helped me before, not even someone who knew me or who could get me to safety.
The Internet seems to be filled to the brim with people claiming that they would have stood up for or fought back against jerks out on the street, yet out on the streets, no random stranger has ever come to my aid. Beyond my own experiences, such an occurrence is rare enough that when it happens, it is often remarked upon.
Alternative: Intervene when and where you can rather than make claims that you will.