Advice giving: A preface

Advice is often unsolicited. We are all guilty of offering it as a way to co-operate, to show our listening, to help a dear friend or even try to wrangle our way out of hearing someone complaining. Sometimes the very nature of an interaction seems to request an advice-giving format: The speaker offers a problem and the listener finds solutions to that problem. As late Millennials who have grown up in capitalist environments, our 20s were marked by a desire to resist this transaction. Instead? We have learnt to listen and just… be. But when we seek advice from our closest friends we must temper their vulnerability: We must act powerfully. 

The focus within this podcast is on advice that has been sought. Our voice messages changed the way that we spoke to each other. We no longer followed a simple question and answer format. Instead, we recorded voice messages for one another which meditated on our own and each other’s lives. Within these intimate whispers, we have asked for advice.

Across 365 days and 1852 voice messages, we look for advice-giving that has come as a result of the speaker’s request. The reason for this is because we are interested in the big questions that we ask our friends and their context-relevant responses. We tend to go to our close friends to help us position our perspectives on life-changing and anxiety-producing questions; however, rarely situate their current life position alongside their advice.

What if they are giving advice after a fight with their mother who they are living with for the first time in 17 years?

What if they have given advice after speaking on zoom with an ex-lover for six hours?

Given that each of us have undergone such major changes in the past year, we find it intriguing to think about the powerful position that we have played in each other’s lives as friends – and how advice-giving has been central to this. 

Now, we can reflect on, revise and celebrate this advice. 

We can talk plainly about the turbulent context of this advice and how it might have swayed our position.

We can giggle at our ridiculousness and sigh through the nostalgia. Time has simultaneously sped up and slowed down and this project helps us feel in control again.

Most of all, though, this project gives us needed perspective on the last game-changing year and the friendship that has sustained us.

Josefine Baark is an academic and documentary film maker specialising early modern globalization, Scandinavian East India Companies and the exchange of technology between Europe and China.

Further reading