Advice Columns, Closed Minds and Our Society

September 29, 2017
Published in Blogs, Social Pulse

By: Saman Siddiqui

Now a day’s advice column field seems like to be more populated and unreliable to me. Mean while few traditional columns have managed to survive the modern modes of communication. Other mediums have proliferated across various social networking sites as well. Even some celebrities are doing out advice of their own. In older times advice columns reached their specific audiences through well established newspaper syndication, the internet has democratized the practice of giving and seeking advice. From what to cook, kitchen problems, marital issues, health, relations, crushes what not is seek out through various means.

In Pakistan, few newspapers and magazines regularly publish advice columns under various pen names. I have always wondered who these people are.  Who seek for some wisdom by writing to news papers and discussing their issues with strangers? Of course their name is kept hidden. But seriously why do they need cheeky, over exaggerated advice on an issue or the condition they are facing on a public forum. I guess they are not comfortable with their immediate family or peers to talk and share their personal happenings or sufferings. It could indicate towards some physiological problem they could be facing which needs to be addressed.

On digging deep and researching I found out that advice columns are 300 years old practice. Couple of hundred years ago when human society was evolving this must have become a common practice to seek wisdom. There are many of advice gurus, intelligent aunties who run such columns in various news paper magazines and as well online. I am not sure whether they are competent physiatrist or any specialists in his field to guide people with their issues.

What caught my attention particularly for this blog post was a letter to such advice aunty in a national daily’s magazine. A 14 year old writing and seeking for help. And what was the issue she had a crush on her driver. Who compliments her that she is beautiful, in her mind she is having thoughts to marry him the driver. None of her class fellow boys consider her beautiful and no one wants to be her boyfriend.

These were disturbing thoughts of a girl who is just 14 years old that will definitely make any sane grownup disturbed. What guru advised is another debate. But coming back to her letter, what social upbringing are we providing to our youngsters. 14 years and even school not finished yet writing for solutions that’s alarming enough.

Our society which is full of molesters and pedophiles I am amazed how people can trust strangers as drivers, nannies and servants to take care of young ones.  And sending their children to school accompanied only with the driver, in case of a young girl who hardly knows how corrupt this society is.

Now coming back to reply of the letter, the advisor wrote to focus on the study and it’s not the age to think about marriage, which seems fine. But advisor also tells not to inform parents about the driver. Does the adviser have any idea what great danger she might be getting in?

The girl is very young and she can easily get carried away by such tactics which can be very dangerous for her if it goes further like this. If the girl is going daily with that driver then he has enough time to spoil her mind with such crap. At 14, infatuations are common. Young, inexperienced girls are flattered by such praises. And soon find themselves, in ugly or compromising situations. Oh God, this even sounds so scary. Many young girls, with no right decision power, fall victim to such moves and when parents get to know it’s already too late.

Telling the girl not to say anything to her parents is really bad, surely there are exceptions but generally children should be able to tell everything to their parents, and not given the advice of hiding any information from them. Why do we think that parents are some fragile beings who can’t tolerate any conflicting info about their children and they have to be shielded from it? They have spent a lifetime facing many circumstances of and gaining a lot of experience from that.

It is a huge problem in our country. Rich people have cars and they can afford drivers, they send their children unattended with them without realizing the consequences. Even if the children are being sent through school vans there should be thorough scrutiny of the drivers.  Basically the parents are to be blamed too. The girl should not be allowed to go unaccompanied with a male driver not even a young boy should be left to go alone. We hear about many cases being reported on the media, it’s better to be careful rather to repent.

 

 


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Story first published: 29th September 2017

 
 

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