I recently began reading the My Hero Academia (MHA) manga. Yes, I recognize that the series is a good five years old. I even tweeted to that effect.
Me: I just started reading the My Hero Academia manga.
Them: That started over 5 years ago and we all recommended the series to you. Like a bunch.
Me: Yea, but I just started now, so I want to talk about it now.
Me: PLUS ULTRA!
— Mr. N the 🎃👑 (@MDMRN) October 14, 2019
As I said in the tweet, this series has been recommended to me over and over. Why wouldn’t it? It’s an anime/manga series about superheroes. I grew up on American superhero comics and I’m currently reading a graphic novel where Batman turns into a vampire. Superhero satire like The Tick and One Punch Man are some of my favorites.
Based on those facts alone, MHA would obviously be my jam. Yet, I resisted checking out the series. Why do you think I resisted the recommendation?
I know I am not alone here. We have all received recommendations from friends that we ignored—the type of recommendations that, inevitably, we discover we adore. Yet, again, we find ourselves resisting, even though they come from the people who know us best. Why do we ignore potentially good advice?
I don’t know who needs to hear this but did you finish that anime series you swore you were going to watch? pic.twitter.com/6gvn5EApU9
— BGA NEWS OUTLET. Naruto’s 20th year🇳🇬🌙 (@blackgirlsanime) August 26, 2019
Is it arrogance? Do we think we know better than others and, therefore, do not want their recommendations? Maybe. I can understand thinking that I alone know best what I will like. I mean, I am a guy who has on his list of all-time favorite anime series a short-form, dialogue-less series based on a mobile game about a family of anthropomorphic mushrooms. When what you enjoy is that weird, what do other people know about your tastes?
The answer—a lot.
Sharing your life with friends and family establishes a connection. This connection is as deep as you allow it to be and friendship is incredibly important. These friendships can help guide your life with the helpful advice of friends. While I could go on about Biblical examples of friendship or a faith-based connection to friendship, let’s not lose focus on what’s important here—good recommendations and our poor responses to them.
I know I’ve sworn I would check out a series only to never end up checking into it. It feels awkward when you talk to the person next about those topics because I lied to them. While in some cases I did plan to check out the series, in many instances I never was planning to do so—I only said I would to placate my friend. But why? Why not just tell the truth? Or, why not look into the series your friend who actually knows you thinks you would like?
Writing this has been convicting for me, personally, because I do this often, most especially with friends online. If I looked into everything that was recommended to me, I would not have time to sleep, eat, or hang out with my kids. So, going forward my plan is to be more honest.
First, I plan to ask the person why they believe I would like their recommendation. A show being your favorite does not mean it will be mine, even if we have similar tastes. For the example of MHA, there are obvious answers that I should have heeded a long time ago.
Second, if it really does not sound like my jam at all, I need to say so right away. This is how I have felt about Stranger Things or Game of Thrones. While both have been highly recommended to me, when the series are each broken down, I’m just not interested. Being honest with my lack of interest has helped avoid awkwardness and hurt feelings later. I straight up said in each instance, “I don’t want to see this series, but I’m glad you are enjoying it.”
Third, look inward at your own recommendations. What have I recommended to others? Did I recommend something because I liked it a lot or because based on my friend’s interests, I think they would like it? If it’s the latter, then I did a good deed recommending it. If it is the former, reconsider recommending it unless it also fits into the second category.
While I was not planning to write an advice column, I’m glad I did. What are some series you held off on checking into, but ended up loving later on? Or how did you feel when you recommended something to a friend and they ignored it? Let’s have a conversation in the comments.