Dear Abbys: A New Esquire Column Sources Life Advice From 100,000 People

“Dear Abby” comes into the Internet age with a new Esquire column chock-full of advice from 100,000 of the author’s closest friends.

Dear Abbys: A New Esquire Column Sources Life Advice From 100,000 People

Who do you turn to for life advice? In “My Huddled Masses,” a new weekly Esquire column, editor-at-large A.J. Jacobs is turning to 100,000 of his closest Facebook friends.


The experiment in life advice for the masses puts Jacobs at the helm of an open-sourced pool to which anyone can contribute. Jacobs describes his role as a kind of Nate Silver of columnists, “curating and collating and commenting on the mass’s responses.” Each week, he’ll print the best answers, credit the proper contributors, and come to a collaborative conclusion.

The first subject under fire: Chronic tardiness.

“How do you deal with perpetually late people who say that’s just how they are?” asks Marlene Hall of Washington, D.C.

Among the colorful crowd’s suggestions: Lie and say you’re meeting earlier than you actually are. Show up even later than your friend. Invoke physical harm. Publicly shame them. Or, you know, just relax and shut the f up.

Jacobs’ verdict? Bring your smartphone. Lie about meeting at an earlier time as a last resort. Leave your taser at home.

The experiment is somewhat reminiscent of Douglas Davis’s 1994 social experiment, “The World’s First Collaborative Sentence,” which created one mega-sentence by allowing contributors to riff on the thoughts of another.

We’re told to look for a future raging debate amongst Jacobs’s cohorts about how to approach the delicate subject of female arm hair.


[Image: Flickr user PULSE Media Strategies]

About the author

Christina is an associate editor at Fast Company, where she writes about technology, social media, and business.