Is Dear Abby’s advice really worth writing for?

By Vickie Papageorge
April 12, 2007

Meghan Hurley

Dear Abby’s advice column has graced the pages of daily newspapers for years. The columnist who is known under the pen name Abigail Van Buren gained her popularity by her shared expertise in every soul-numbing, mind-boggling, heartbreaking problem and small to large situation, that seemed to ravage the every day lives of people around the world. Was she really helping those in dire need of advice or is Dear Abby just spouting a humorous perspective on the everyday tribulations of people who really just need a laugh and a figurative pat-on-the-back?

Amanda Arnold, a math and secondary education major said, “I think advice columns and just asking for advice in general is basically just a reassurance of what you already want to do. Of course they can be helpful but I think when you ask for advice, you already know in your head what you want to do, and you’re just looking for some reassurance. I’d rather ask my friends and the people who really care about me for advice rather than a stranger.”

Arnold may be not be an avid reader of the Dear Abby column along with other advice columns. But it can be proven that there are many who do read them on a regular basis and swear by their wise words and reassuring comments because of the growing popularity the columns have achieved throughout the years.

Today there are hundreds of advice columns in magazines, newspapers and online-blogs. There are even personal websites that feature their own advice columns. There are advice groups who linger on the corners of major cities who wait around for people to ask them advice like Amy Alkon.

Alkon commonly known as the Advice Goddess started out giving advice on the streets of New York as one of the three women known as “The Advice Ladies.” Today her advice column, which is based on science, psychology, evolutionary psychology and ethics but is read as humor, is featured in over 100 newspapers across the U.S. and Canada. She has also made appearances on major television shows like Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, MTV and many others.

What’s all the fuss with advice columns and are they really helpful? Why can’t we just ask our friends for advice rather than having to wait a few weeks to get a response from someone who has no idea we exist until they receive our plea for help?

The avid readers of Dear Mrs. Web on happen to answer the previous questions with their overflow of appreciative letters they send in daily, saying thanks for all of her help and wise words. She answers questions and gives her thoughts on topics ranging from tattoos and piercings, liposuction, what kind of invitations to use for weddings to names for newborns, sharing recipes for brownies and how to tell if love is real. She’s quite the expert in all fields of life.

Do we all need a Dear Abby or Dear Mrs. Web in our life or maybe just some self-confidence and a few good friends to give us the wise words, confidence and reassurance that we need? You decide or email Mrs. Web. She’s sure to get back to you in two days.

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Vickie Papageorge

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