What's wrong with simple advice?

Mar 29, 2016 · 4 min read

I have noticed lots of people have to my blog searching for "my instagram is posting spam". They have been ending up to my post about getting rid of spam on Instagram. It's a collection of tips on how to avoid spam (as far as it can be) and how to report it. In the comment section some people have been asking me what to do when their accounts have been compromised. Their accounts were posting spammy images. Or their accounts are posting spam comments. Why is that happening and how to stop it?

What's wrong with simple advice? -- Mervi Emilia

There are several things that may have happened. Either it's a case of old fashioned hacking. Perhaps your password was too weak and easy to guess. These days, the most likely reason is you clicked a link on a spam account. They were promising you tons of new followers or something like that. And you wanted to see how. The link itself can infect your account, take the control over it and start posting spam images or spam comments. Or worse: After clicking that link you gave your password to the site, hoping to get those promised 1k of followers. And again, the spammer gained access to your account.

The solution is too simple to say out loud: Change your password. In fact, that is what you gotta do whenever any of your social media, email or other accounts is acting suspiciously. Simple as that.

There, the whole thing wrote out in three paragraphs, 239 words. I was being wordy and the set up could be shorter too. A couple of times I started to write a blog post about this. A whole post about why your Instagram is posting spam and how to stop it doing so. But I felt it was something too simple. Too simple a subject, too simple a cure. Not interesting enough, not worth a blog post. It would have been about as long as what I wrote above. Thus instead I updated that post on how to get rid of spam on Instagram with a few lines explaining why your account is posting spam and telling to change your password.

We love to share and pin blog posts which offer complicated solutions to any situation. How to become a morning person. The habits of highly successful entrepreneurs. How to use Pinterest more effectively. Boost your productivity. Detailed instructions to follow if you really want to succeed in life and business. Most of them make things more tangled than they need to be. Being a morning person is overrated. If you want to boost your productivity you just need to produce more. If you want to be a successful entrepreneur you need to start a business, make mistakes, adjust and keep going on until you are successful (or not). But that's just too simple.

This is why I keep having such long pauses between my blog posts. I start to write about something and after a few lines I realise what I'm about to say is too simple. The blog post wouldn't be long enough. Or it wouldn't seem interesting enough. It would be too simple. Sure, I could always keep writing, even if I knew what I was writing was too simple or short to attract readers, gain shares and pins and to get found through search engines. Sometimes I do that, but I don't really write only to myself. I want the readers. I want the shares and pins. I even need them, since I work as a freelancer and I need (new) customers to pay my bills.

Overcomplicating things is how the instructional blogging and journalism works. That's how to get more pins, that's how to get more shares. Popular diets are based on that. Instead of saying eat mostly vegetables and don't eat too much in general they give complex instructions about calories and fatty acids. In case you want to keep your finances in balance you must have several separate bank accounts and an accountant or knowledge on how to do double-entry bookkeeping (which is much simpler than it sounds). To become successful you must take a course about how to plan better and have a colourful planner with daily, weekly, monthly sections and a set of markers to use for filling those sections. The more complicated the instructions are the better.

For the person possessing and providing this complex expertise it is better, because if everyone knows how to keep themselves fit and healthy or how to balance accounts they wouldn't pay for the help of the expert. Nor they would share all those blog posts filled with the expertise. For the person looking for the instructions it is better because simple advice just cannot work. It's too simple. It cannot be that simple because I'm not fit. It cannot be that simple because I'm not successful. It cannot be that simple because I'm broke. There must be something I'm missing.

Here's a crazy thought: What if most of the complex advice is useless? Such as the SEO advice that tells you to do this and that in order to get your pages found forgets to tell that mostly you have very little control over the search engines. Such as the instructions on how to become more successful Etsy seller fail to mention that sometimes people just get lucky. The complicated advice is based on the idea that there's something wrong with you and you must and can change that.

I like simple. Simple assumes you are good the way you are. Not perfect, perhaps not successful. But good enough. So, let's keep things simple and steer away from that overly complicated advice. And change that password.

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I will gloriously ignore (and, where possible, report) any responses which contain personal attacks, aim to troll or provoke for the sake of provocation, or seek to promote unrelated business or scams.