The cliche: Offering unsolicited advice is pretty much a pundit's job description, but when writing about Occupy Wall Street, they seem compelled to note that the protesters themselves do not actually seek their guidance. Last week, Paul Kershaw wrote in the Vancouver Sun, "So Occupy Wall Street, as you evolve in Canada, here's some unsolicited advice..." "Dear Occupy Seattle, I have some unsolicited advice for you," writes Joe Mirabella on the SeattlePI blog. Today, Katrina Trinko titled a National Review post, "(Unsolicited) Advice for the Occupiers," and The Atlantic's Meghan McArdle wrote that she'd "offer some unsolicited advice to all parties [police and protesters]." It's gotten to be so much that one protester even blogged that, "It's very en vogue at the moment to offer advice to Occupy Wall Street," and titled his post, "Some Unsolicited Advice to the Democratic Party: Cave to Occupy Wall Street Movement."
Why it's catching on: Notably some of the first examples of "unsolicited advice" were offered to non-New York based movements and indeed the advice seemed to arrive as the movement grew large enough that the media began writing about it seriously. In an International Business Times article, Jeremy White seems to link the growing advice with the leaderless of the movement and subsequent power vacuum. "So far, the protesters camped out in Zuccotti Park have deliberately eschewed a hierarchy or a specific message," he writes, later noting, "Prominent commentators like Nicholas Kristof have begun to offer advice to Occupy Wall Street." What better movement for wise columnists to lend advice to than one that is simultaneously important and without a decision-makers.
Why else? It also seems to have to do with a writer's sympathy (or lack thereof) for the movement. As Jack Shafer writes in Reuters today, some on the right had fun with revelations that journalists like Dylan Ratigan were emailing advice to the protesters. Indeed, even the more publicly aired advice from left-leaning voices like Kristof's seems to come from that same genuine desire to guide them toward success. The advice launched from places like National Review, on the other hand, seems to note that it is "unsolicited" more to acknowledge that there's no way in heck protesters are going to listen to this advice, so they may as well admit that they're not really speaking to protesters so much as to their regular readership.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.