At the same time that I subscribed to Martha Stewart Living, I also subscribed to Real Simple
. At the time, I thought they were related. Turns out I could not have been more wrong: in fact, these publications are mortal enemies. Like PETA Magazine and Veal Lovers Quarterly.
And I came to hate them both.
Where Martha Stewart is all about taking extra time and care to get things done JUST RIGHT, Real Simple is all about "ten tips to do X faster." Everything is about streamlining, planning, improving. Frankly, it was just too much pressure. I don't need to learn five better ways to re-sole my shoes, or eight quick tips for making my kitchen sink really sparkle. I'm almost 40 years old. Things are what they are, and that's that.
To complicate matters, this incessant barrage of unlikely advice made me suspicious. I had a feeling that a lot of the estimates were way off, and that a lot of the advice probably wasn't very useful. The problem is that there is only so much advice in the world, and after a few issues, Real Simple probably burned through all of it. But you have to keep putting out a magazine, so you keep paying your writers to come up with "tips and tricks," and they start getting pretty desperate, and the tips and tricks start getting weirder and less useful every day.
For example, take the magazine's suggestion that you clean a microwave by microwaving a cup of water. Sounds great, right? I could see that working. With, like the steam, or whatever. I don't know. It sounded easy, and the potential down side seemed minimal.
I microwaved a cup of water. And you know what? All it did was make the inside of my microwave a little bit damp. Yahoo. I could easily have gotten the same result just by wiping it with a damp cloth, which had pretty much been my plan to begin with. I still had to take out the turntable and give it a good scrubbing, and spray the inside with Simple Green to get some of the oil off.
That's Real Simple in a nutshell: unhelpful advice, combined with this huge pressure to DO MORE NOW ALL THE TIME GO GO GO. Just the thought of cleaning my entire refrigerator in fifteen minutes makes me exhausted. Even if you include a cute infographic with a series of helpful illustrations, I'm telling you, I just don't care. If I DID care, I would have cleaned my fridge ages ago. QED.