making life choices based on askme August 10, 2020 4:02 AM   Subscribe

What askme (or mefi, meta, fanfare, etc) posts have had a big impact on your life?

I was just randomly looking through some of my past askme posts, as you do, and came upon this, where purephase casually suggests I try Django for a project, and evariste adds some info on why I should think about using it.
That was 13 years ago, and I now run a small successful webdev agency where we use Django almost exclusively.
It's let me weather living in one the countries worst hit by the pandemic, even increasing my income because everybody needs websites right now.
It can be said it was a life changing post and answers for me.
So, thanks MeFi, purephase and evariste!
Has anything here had a similar impact on you?
posted by signal to MetaFilter-Related at 4:02 AM (40 comments total) 37 users marked this as a favorite

Most recently, I'm looking at indigo, fuchsia, and teal paint swatches for rooms of my house.
posted by phunniemee at 5:23 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


I finally went to therapy, after years of seeing it suggested to others on here which definitely 'normalised' the concept for me (for context, I'm from the UK where growing up it was NOT the done thing and something only 'rich and self-absorbed Americans' did).

It's the best money and time I've EVER spent in my life. Not a day goes by where I don't think about and/or use something I learned there.
posted by atlantica at 5:48 AM on August 10 [24 favorites]


Great question.

This AskMe on facing fears became a real thing. I come back to it now and again. More subtle than a career change, but had a huge impact.
posted by wellred at 5:56 AM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I've rescued cats stuck in trees rather a lot. Possibly as there's an assumption that, because I am tall, it will somehow be easier for me than anyone else to rescue Fifitrixiebell (though 6 foot 3 inches does not suddenly make me as tall as whatever tree today's cat is stuck in).

This AskMe was useful some years back in laying out the options (and what options were not feasible) when a neighbour's cat was stuck in a tree in rural Iowa. I've sometimes gone back for a re-read when faced with another "cat at end of branch and cannot reverse" situation. That AskMe also contains an excellent off-hand comment.

I'm not sure that counts as a "big impact", but it helped in reducing the chances of various cats, or myself, making a similar indentation on the ground below.

(As an additional comment in this situation; I strongly recommend that if you choose to go up into a tree, wear thick gardening gloves and keep your arms and any other bare skin covered, for claw-related reasons)
posted by Wordshore at 6:39 AM on August 10 [9 favorites]


A couple of years ago there was a post on dishwashers in which was mentioned the intriguing tidbit that you should leave some food residue on your dishes in order for the detergent to work better. As a kid, my grandmother insisted on scrubbing each dish to within an inch of its life before putting it in the dishwasher, so much so that I did not even understand why the dishwasher was even needed. The dishes were almost clean enough to eat off of before they even went into the machine.

When I moved into my current situation in my 30s, it was the first time I ever had a dishwasher of my own. I immediately resumed the tedious process as taught by my grandmother, and continued to do so for almost 20 years.

So the dishwashing Ask led me to this article which convinced me that I could just basically scrape off the chunks and put the dishes into the machine, no scrubbing required. And even though nobody in the Ask seemed to recommend dishwashing pods, they DID recommend using the correct amount of detergent, at which I was failing miserably because I would just aim the container in the vicinity of the detergent dispenser in the machine and shake or squirt a goodly (probably ridiculous) amount. Now I just pop in a pod and I'm good to go.

So for the past couple of years dishwashing has been SO MUCH less of a hassle. I'm not wasting so much detergent and my dishes are cleaner. I mean, it's not life-changing like a divorce or therapy, but it's something I appreciate on the daily and I'm happy to enjoy the little win.
posted by Serene Empress Dork at 6:56 AM on August 10 [13 favorites]


AskMe's basically unanimous opinion that I should leave my job inspired me to do so. (Best choice ever.) A mefite recommended me the public pool I happily went to for several years pre-COVID. And another was pretty influential in my decision to go to grad school!
posted by ferret branca at 7:30 AM on August 10 [9 favorites]


Also, though I guess this is not about a specific post, mefi got me my longtime trivia team (and other friends)! *waves*
posted by ferret branca at 7:35 AM on August 10 [4 favorites]


Probably goes without saying, because it has over 1,800 favorites and has been widely cited in the mainstream press, but the Ask vs. Guess Culture response has fundamentally shaped the way I think about my interactions with people.

Happily, I have not needed AskMe's other famously popular response.
posted by The Bellman at 8:14 AM on August 10 [32 favorites]


Another classic answer that needs to stand here is "I did not eat that thing."

But seriously, 'Ask vs. Guess culture' has been most illuminating for me too.
posted by Namlit at 8:28 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Ask (mine and others') helped me process a lot of turmoil around having a kid vs not, too many to list. (We had the kid.)

My authored Asks are all pretty low-stakes but I'm having trouble thinking of others' that have made a huge impact.

Probably the biggest impact: I'm finally off soda and can barely stomach the stuff anymore. Replaced it with espresso / V60 / mineral water.

I don't wash my face with benzoyl peroxide stuff anymore, and my solid color t-shirts have never looked better. (Also my skin because I'm not drying the hell out of it anymore but that also could be a function of age.)

It boggles my mind how much we used to spend on groceries. Turns out not going to Whole Foods every other day and buying fresh fish helps.

Got great insight on Burlington but didn't move there. Moved to Bellingham, WA instead based in part on this question. Turns out the move got a lot more complicated a couple months later-- surprise!
posted by supercres at 8:56 AM on August 10 [2 favorites]


Weirdly, I think the ask that had the most impact on my life has been the one where I asked for clues for Harry Potter trivia. I asked this for Easter in 2016, to lead to an Easter basket. I used additional clues and sites people had recommended to find more clues again in 2017. In 2018 I just skimmed some of the books for potential clues. The next year my daughter offered to do a set of clues for one of us (I suspected she didn't believe in the Easter Bunny, but waited until she confirmed that). So we've had a lovely two years now where the three of us have a circle of clue-making, often based on favorite books (Sherlock Holmes and Carry On so far) and it has been one of the most fun family things.
posted by Margalo Epps at 8:59 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Hah, came to cite the same question supercres did. I'm still in Seattle, but almost certainly moving to Port Townsend (or very nearby) within the next five years, once I've got a bit of coin saved up. In general, a bunch of 'city mouse moving to the country' AskMe's have helped with the push to get to a more rural area. I look forward to a future of 'why is nature doing a thing in my abode' questions for you all!
(Also a future of not getting a 45-minute performance of Concerto for Solo Leaf-Blower And Recycling Truck every. fucking. week.)

Also, it wasn't life-changing exactly, but when I was very afraid and very confused in a new country, asking this question and getting an answer was comforting, when I desperately needed a little comfort.
posted by kalimac at 9:41 AM on August 10 [1 favorite]


This post makes me long again for the 'I wish I could see a list of the things I've flagged as fantastic' pony.
posted by ApathyGirl at 9:54 AM on August 10 [7 favorites]


Well, I'm not sure this is EXACTLY in the spirit of the question, but this Pixar/Wall-E story always makes me happy. Still makes me cry. I know because I just checked!
posted by Glinn at 10:36 AM on August 10 [6 favorites]


Not a specific post, and it's an ongoing process rather than a single change, but being a regular reader here has made me a lot more aware of harmful language use and privilege in general, far more than anywhere else online or my mostly white and middle class social group. A decade ago I was much more in the camp of "if the word's not meant as an insult, it's fine", so this has been a positive perspective shift for me.

I've also absorbed a lot of random knowledge from AskMe, though I can't point to many posts in particular. Certainly Ask vs Guess and emotional labour have been especially helpful concepts to learn. I've also learned from reading posts and comments here from neurodivergent women in particular that I'm very likely neurodivergent in more ways than just the obvious ADHD, which is information that hasn't really had a clear concrete effect on my life but again has changed my perspective in a helpful way.
posted by randomnity at 11:14 AM on August 10 [29 favorites]


I can't find it now and I wish I could (can you?) but someone passed along the excellent generally applicable life advice to "just keep it in the road," i.e., keep it out of the ditch, and I use that pretty much every day now. It would make an excellent cross-stitch project.
posted by HotToddy at 1:27 PM on August 10 [7 favorites]


There is an AskMefi answer that has really stuck in my mind, although I remember none of the details. It was about challenging projects/situations, and the essence was that to get through, all you had to do was:
A) do one thing a day, and
B) don't quit.

Even if you don't even manage a), as long as you do b) you haven't failed. For some reason I think of this all the time, and it works for everything - projects, housework, going to the gym, horrible chores I'm avoiding...

Generally, mefi really did affect how I grew as a person, although it's hard to point to anything specific. I think I'm better at relationships, and slower to judge than I would be otherwise.
posted by stillnocturnal at 2:11 PM on August 10 [16 favorites]


flabdablet saved my ass one time
posted by BungaDunga at 4:51 PM on August 10 [4 favorites]


I asked about being bi and the advice I got helped me screw up some courage and talk to a couple friends and eventually come out and now it's literally three years later & I've figured out I'm a lesbian which is so incredible and awesome. So, thanks everyone who commented nice things back in 2017!
posted by augustimagination at 6:54 PM on August 10 [17 favorites]


"Therefore, life in the Peace Corps- although in many ways incredibly overwhelming - nonetheless boiled itself down into a very simple to do list:

1. Do one thing.
2. Don't quit.
"
posted by MonkeyToes at 7:00 PM on August 10 [6 favorites]


BungaDunga: "flabdablet saved my ass one time"

That's my favorite answer of all time.
posted by signal at 7:36 PM on August 10 [3 favorites]


I'm fairly certain it was this comment that lead me to read all of the "A Slob Comes Clean" blog and books.

Six months later I'd decluttered to the point where the floor and other flat surfaces were clear of crap, and I started a full konmari which took a further six months. Just this weekend (a year after finishing) His thoughts were red thoughts, who I've known for 7ish years and who has seen some of my truly apocalyptic post-gish disaster spaces, looked at my bedroom and said "Wow, this is tidy" or some other complimentary thing. Because it was. And always is. I am a hoopy frood who knows where her scissors are. Thanks anderjen.

Also, as seen above, Metafilter led to Gish which led to us burning a truncated icosohedron model of a corona virus in my backyard on Sunday. Not life changing, but definitely fun.
posted by kjs4 at 8:07 PM on August 10 [10 favorites]


Oh, I forgot. The post about Helsinki Bus Station Theory (the persistence of your work or hobby pursuit) had a significant influence on my writing direction.
posted by Wordshore at 8:16 PM on August 10 [5 favorites]


I got ketamine in 2017. Really, I probably would have tried it anyway, but having a bunch of reassuring answers didn't hurt. I've now probably been getting ketamine longer than most.......people in the US.........????!!!!??? In addition to being one of very few people anywhere taking it at-home intramuscularly. It's wild! I'm like an authority now! It also completely, 100% changed my entire life. I can't wait to read about myself in a medical textbook someday NOT A JOKE.

And I still/always welcome MeMails if people have questions about it. Being able to help people with that is the main reason I have never closed my account.
posted by colorblock sock at 1:04 AM on August 11 [17 favorites]


Agatha_magatha's simple "I don't procrastinate" blew my mind, especially as it came at a time when my own pre-pandemic procrastination had made my life much worse than it had to be. I had put off dealing with a mistake on my driver's license, getting my oil changed, getting my computer keyboard repaired, having my house put in my name after my aunt's death - so many things that the pandemic made difficult or impossible. It seemed there was an endless list of ways in which such a life rule would have saved me a lot of trouble, anxiety, and aggravation. I haven't totally succeeded in putting this into practice, but I've gotten much better. And I think about this statement at least several times a week.
posted by FencingGal at 5:23 AM on August 11 [9 favorites]


AskMe has absolutely steered me away from not one but two horrifyingly abusive relationships-in-the-making, which at the time I had not even recognized as such. That's not even counting my own Ask from...2017? about a creepy dude in a hobby group; I knew I wanted nothing to do with him but until I read the responses thought I was just being too sensitive. Those answers completely changed my perspective on boundaries and giving people who freak me out the benefit of the doubt (DON'T BECAUSE YOU'RE NOT ACTUALLY OBLIGATED TO!) and have stood me in good stead in all kinds of crappy situations.
posted by TinyChicken at 7:22 AM on August 11 [11 favorites]


Not sure which one specifically, but I know I joined Paperback Swap due to some comments here, which got me back into reading in a big way. A few years later, I read this comment about a source for cheap android tablets and got one. That opened my eyes to the world of ebooks and I got a dedicated nook that increased my reading even more.

My first AskMe was a question about why my campus never got the classes I needed. The answers told me I was out of luck and I dropped out of college again.
posted by soelo at 7:47 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I actually asked an anonymous question at a time when I was really at a huge, just intense, possible crossroads in my life. By far the heaviest issue I've ever put into a question here. The consensus was almost universal in saying which way I should go.

I ignored that advice. I am years and years further down the road from there and the repercussions that emanated from that decision are literally all around me, and I am happier and healthier than I've ever been before. I'm so glad I didn't follow the path agreed upon by MetaFilter!

I don't think MetaFilter gave me bad advice. If the exact same question were to pop up today I'd probably counsel anonymous the same way that we tried to point me then. I re-read that question now and I find it baffling and sad. I was lost, and desperate, and consumed with guilt and grief. And the way I framed the question lead, I think, to answers that weren't going to work.

Even though I didn't follow the advice I was given, I am still thankful that I sought it out. I wouldn't have gotten where I am without having to grapple with the answers I was given, and it really did help me.
posted by dirtdirt at 8:05 AM on August 11 [19 favorites]


I now go by my chosen name with my family and close friends, and will start the process of changing it legally soon! I probably would have never had the guts to make the change if it hadn't been for the unanimous and heartwarming "yes!" from the hive mind 💓
posted by Balthamos at 9:08 AM on August 11 [19 favorites]


I asked a question about Jeopardy!, and as a result jessamyn invited me to join LearnedLeague, which has become one of my favorite places on the internet.
posted by kevinbelt at 9:48 AM on August 11 [1 favorite]


I've mentioned this before, but six years ago I had recently left a grad program in linguistics after realizing that it wasn't quite the right fit for me, and was back working my original job as an instructional designer. I was just as unhappy with it as before so I asked this question to get ideas for possible career changes ... And as a direct result my wife and I moved to Oregon so I could pursue a career in speech language pathology. I graduated from my master's program last summer (thank goodness), completed my clinical fellowship this past year, and just last week I got my full SLP license and I couldn't be happier.

Along the way I also got a great laptop thanks to the answers in this thread (especially sockermom - I am SO glad I didn't go with a heavy gaming laptop I'd have to lug around), made way more on selling my beloved hatchback than I'd expected thanks to this thread, and have gotten helpful advice on many other topics along the way.
posted by DingoMutt at 11:56 AM on August 11 [3 favorites]


This one is easy: five (!!) years ago, I got this advice about making my car situation less expensive. The answer was simple yet I hadn't thought of it, and it ended up saving me around $300 every month since then: refinance at a credit union. It was the one weird trick that helped me balance my household budget. So thank you, Ruthless Bunny, wherever you are!
posted by witchen at 4:25 PM on August 11 [5 favorites]


Twelve years ago I wondered if I should ditch my new boyfriend and join the Foreign Service. General Metafilter consensus was to follow my dreams and take the job. I turned down the State Department, married the boyfriend, and Trump happened. I feel quite good about that life choice now.
posted by Maarika at 5:28 PM on August 11 [4 favorites]


The Tohoku earthquake/tsunami thread made me feel like this was a home on the internet, if not for the first time, then for the most certain time? The concerned that was shown for the people in Japan, and specifically for the MeFites here, with people asking after Japan-based MeFites is something I’ll always value.

An ask (I can’t remember the specific one) about what it’s like to go through life with ADHD, where various users shared their experiences was eye opening to me, though I have still to act on any of the information I got from reading the thread.
posted by Ghidorah at 3:27 AM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Great thread, thanks OP! The emotional labor thread was hugely important to me at the time and helped me understand my life as a female person in a way that had never quite clicked for me before. Lots of other posts and comments have also been meaningful but the most life-changing one was probably my Ask about relocating from the US to Europe to be closer to my kid and grandchildren. I have also gotten advice about dealing with my dad, support that was especially important shortly before he died earlier this year. I've been in Europe 2.5 years now. That move was hard. I still miss friends and family in the US. Still, it was the best choice and I have no regrets about moving. Thanks, MeFites!
posted by Bella Donna at 5:20 AM on August 12 [11 favorites]


The Crone Island post and megathread crystallized a lot for me. It resulted in some longlasting connections as well as making it easier, permanently, to understand the profound impact of sexism on my entire life.
posted by Sheydem-tants at 4:43 PM on August 12 [7 favorites]


I wrote this question in January 2018 and by January 2019 I was living in Astoria, Oregon! Thanks to pdb for suggesting it, and several others for mentioning the Oregon coast: I am very happy here.
posted by mygothlaundry at 7:18 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Life-changing in a small but vital way: ten years ago I posted an Ask about a busted clock on my stove, which I had tried to reset but only succeeded in making the alarm go off every few minutes. Fritley posted the right answer. Last year I was cleaning the kitchen and inadvertently nudged the stupid clock again (yes, I still have the same ancient stove) and was able to look up Fritley's solution again. Yay!
posted by zadcat at 8:28 AM on August 13 [4 favorites]


Longboarding with a push pole changed my life because I now can't lift my right elbow above my shoulder. Apparently "consult your doctor before starting a new exercise regime" is the advice I should've actually paid attention to.
posted by clawsoon at 3:48 PM on August 15


I'm so proud!
posted by fritley at 6:55 PM on August 15


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