Bullying isn’t cool, but if I knew anyone who relied on WikiHow articles to guide them through life I’d be dangling them upside down and taking all their lunch money like I had a week left to live… straight up.
I pity the people who even think about giving passive aggressive gifts for Christmas let alone seek a how-to on it. The same applies for anyone wanting to know how to deal with having a communist friend, hiding an erection, taking a shower, or becoming a philosopher.
For those who’ve never had to fall back on one of their handy guides, WikiHow is a crowd-sourced website founded in 2005 with one mission: to teach the world how to do absolutely anything. Including, at one point in Internet history, how not to laugh at obese women. Sure, it may be written on the off-chance dogs one day turn into humans but that doesn’t mean WikiHow isn’t amusing or worth our time for the sake of banter.
So I took a look at some of the ‘normal’ ones that I could maybe try out and this is what I decided on:
Still marketed to sociopaths, obviously, but kind of relatable. My Facebook Chat game hasn’t exactly been A* in the ten or so years I’ve had it, but I don’t think I’d shit from shame if all the insides were to be released on Kindle tomorrow. At the very most I’d move to Canada or something. Maybe get a face lift.
Years of training on MSN and MySpace probably helped a lot. By the time I’d really made the move to Facebook, I’d stopped using un-ironic emojis and saying ‘Heya’ to girls, so I’m not exactly this article’s target audience. And if there is a target audience, God help them.
Part 1 suggested that I ‘ask about an assignment or schedule to open a message’ whatever the hell that means. Given that I’m not a student anymore, asking about assignments was out of the question so I switched it for work.
Pretty flawed from the beginning. For one, I didn’t know what the ‘science article’ was. Plus I sounded like someone who cranks it to Michael Bay films. It didn’t help either that the girl I asked was sat right behind me. She lost her patience and confronted me IRL asking about my question and I had no clue what to say cause there was no fucking science article. Bad. I ended up just sending her the video of that Italian man who can’t pronounce Worcestershire sauce.
WikiHow ensures me that conversation starters don’t have to be loaded or customised but serve merely as an ice-breaker, if that ice-breaker constitutes talking to someone like you’re the first person ever to use email. Another is to ‘draw on joint activities’.
I tried again, with the same girl. This time with a less absurd message.
Ouch. I’ve gone and got one of them haha’s that mean ‘Oh my God please don’t talk to me at the staff party’. Other than that though, she didn’t think anything was up – which is a bit insulting. How low of a threshold for good conversation does she think I have? Am I a real person or just some tub of vanilla ice cream with brown hair? For fuck sake.
Still, she asked me to solve a conundrum chalked onto an outdoor pub sign, so I’d say this was a success.
Next, WikiHow told me me discuss mutual interests to connect with people on a deeper level. Their example of this was someone noticing a girl wearing a Ramones t-shirt in her profile picture and then inquiring about their favourite album.
The first mistake is telling the girl you’ve looked at her profile picture. Obviously if you like a girl you’re gonna do it, but mentioning it in conversation is weird. That’s like saying to a Barburrito worker ‘I see you’ve got spicy shredded beef’. Yeah, do you want some or not you fucking freak?
But I’m in for a penny in for a pound here. I have to take their word for it.
Jesus, under no circumstances should you ever message a girl in this way. I puked six times typing it. Luckily it was someone I’d known since about 1998 and lived round the corner from growing up so she saw right through my schtick and decided to humiliate my love life instead. Is the follow-up remark a victory though? I don’t think so. Gonna call this a failure.
At one point in the guide there’s actually a depressing section advising punters to respect a woman’s ‘boundaries’. Clearly I didn’t want to rile up a girl I knew so much that she threatened me with a restraining order so I skipped over to Part 2 and found this humdinger.
Writing on her wall. Never mind her wall, writing on anyone’s Facebook wall in 2017 screams ‘I’ve literally never seen a nipple’ so bad it could give you tinnitus twice over. Save for memes, genuine wall posts are to be avoided at all costs. Unless you’re like myself and are writing an article which requires you to do so. Look at the state of this:
It got an approval like at least. As far as one-liners go it’s not dreadful but it doesn’t draw a laugh either, so it was perfect. It’s when I went for the second one that I got roasted.
Holy guacamole. The GIF of that dickbag kid doing a thumbs up? What a total, sweaty, mortifying failure. I didn’t go for the third joke, despite WikiHow instructing me to ‘reinforce inside jokes when possible’. No way Jose.
The final point made, perhaps the most sad, is to ‘be kind’. Oh, be kind. Mad that I’ve been purposely acting like an asshole to girls all this time.
When it was all said and done, I decided to round up feedback off the three that I’d subjected to my WikiHow chirpsing to get a consensus. The first I spoke to told me she’d ‘almost certainly’ call the police if someone kept messaging her the way I was but admitted to being relatively nonplussed.
The science one was weird because I wasn’t doing a science article, so I was confused. If a guy said the second one to me I would think he was a bit odd, which is good.
That guide is only helpful if you’re a fucking idiot. It covers the basics. I disagree with posting on their wall. That’s a bit intense.
The second girl was equally unperturbed bit did notice a particular difference in tone.
I mean it sounded a bit weird and jilted but I guess its better than the usual ‘how are you?’, so I’d say good to try and start a conversation by bringing something up like that but maybe keep it a bit less in the future.
An interest is good but keep it sounding a bit less Norman Bates-y.
The third girl seemed shocked that my joke about Switzerland was just a ruse for research. What she had to say about the message as a whole, however, was sobering.
It all depends on the guy, to be honest. It’s down to the whole “charming or alarming” scenario. If I liked a guy and he did it = charming. If I didn’t = alarming.
Interesting. From that, I suppose it’s not about how bad your texting game is, but how you are as a person.
Essentially guys, if you aren’t naturally affable, you’re a weirdo who can consider themselves out of the evolutionary contest. And there’s nothing WikiHow can do about it. Sad!