Real Simple: The Magazine that Makes Things Anything But

Who doesn’t love Real Simple? It’s the magazine that taught us how to make cat-shaped pita chips and alerted us to six new ways to use a sock. Before it, we had no way of knowing that our houseguests would find it helpful to receive written instructions on how to use a towel and we wouldn’t have thought to tuck an old plastic bag into our back pockets  when we didn’t feel like carrying an umbrella.

real simple cat

Today they published an article about the “5 Things You Shouldn’t Do When You’re Tired.” I don’t know what I expected their tips to be, but I figured the first one would be better than “Don’t tweet.” But that’s what they gave us.

Normally I’d make a big deal out of how something as insignificant as tweeting should never be a top concern. But that tip was contributed by Arianna Huffington and she can do no wrong in my book ever since she launched a public campaign to get people to take more naps.

You can take or leave Arianna’s advice, of course – but you have to admit that it’s better than what was offered by Kevin Gregory, who as far as I can tell is a meteorologist from Indianapolis. He urged readers not to assess how tired they are when they’re tired. Leave it to Real Simple, the publication that once suggested we use a lightbulb to iron ribbons, to let a weatherman be the voice of authority on fatigue.

That’s bad advice, Kevin – but it’s probably not all your fault. I bet the editors steered you wrong. After all, they’re the people who gave us a tutorial on how to make a dog toy out of three old dish towels and dedicated a slide show to creative hot dog recipes. It could have happened to anyone.

real simple 1If it were up to me, I would have used one of the three remaining tips to warn people not to attempt to make this fruit bowl from chopsticks. But it wasn’t and Real Simple decided  instead to tell people not to eat donuts and yawn in front of important people.

I once liked Real Simple. I even subscribed to it at one point. And I’ll admit that I still use their recipes – because that’s the one thing that they really do keep simple.

But the rest? Not so much. I don’t want to make garland out of post-it notes or watch a video about how to unclog a glass ketchup bottle with a straw. I don’t need a definitive ranking of salad dressings or a recommendation about which dish soap will look the prettiest on my counter.

Instead, I could use some real advice about what I should avoid doing when I’m tired. Like maybe: Don’t have important conversations. Or make big decisions. Or review your finances, turn on kitchen appliances, or pick out new eyeglasses. You know, that sort of thing.

Real Simple and I aren’t on the same page, obviously. But that’s OK. I’d rather not be in agreement with the magazine that thinks we should use uncooked spaghetti as a bookmark.

Call me crazy, but I’d much rather use a sock.

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  1. Love it, you hit it on the head with what I’ve felt for a long time in reference to these ridiculous suggestions made up by people with nothing better to do. If you’re feeling bored or want to chat more about how “simple” cleaning base boards are, here’s what I had to say about the magazine myth.

  2. This reminds me of why I quit reading magazines like Self. On one page is a list of 5 to 10 “simple” ways to better yourself in whatever way (organization, exercise, etc), and then I swear the very next article includes conflicting advice. And the short lists really start to add up. It got to where reading the magazine totally stressed me out!

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