In Which We Save All The People Of This Land

Hard to Say is This Recording’s weekly advice column. It will appear every Wednesday until the Earth perishes in a fiery blaze, or until North West turns 40. Get no-nonsense answers to all of your most pressing questions by writing to or by dropping us a note at our tumblr.


In February I started seriously dating Kayla. Before we became exclusive, she had told me that she had hidden the use of drugs, mostly cocaine from me, because she feared I would disapprove. Because she was honest about this, I don’t want to accuse her of lying to me without proof. She knows that I don’t do drugs, however, and she is not going to want to tell me if she does. How do I encourage her to be honest with me, and is there any way to prevent her from using with her friends?

Ben R.

Dear Ben,

Forget the cocaine for a second. The idea that you can save someone from what she is doing is pretty much a waste of time for both of you. Let’s look at whether one person in a relationship has ever saved another throughout history:

Virginia Woolf? No.
Cleopatra? I’d have to look it up, but I’m going to say no.
Jesus died.
Demi Lovato? Jury’s still out.
Rachel McAdams? No.
Owen Wilson? No.
Chris Brown? No.
Henry VII? Again, I’m an advice columnist, not a historian.

The point is, people can only save themselves. But if you really care about her, then just ignore her when she is on coke and say absolutely nothing about it. Stressing her out about the subject is only going to push her closer to drugs and the people she does them with. Have you considered an apple farm?


My friend – let’s call her Jill for anonymity’s sake – spends a lot of time on the internet, and it gets into her head a little bit. Somehow, her life has led her to the point where she had a reddit account. Anytime she comes across something the least bit interesting she forwards it along to me, even when I have made it clear I don’t want to see this kind of material.

She constantly refers to the things she finds on the internet or “on a podcast” and it gets a little trying. I also use the internet, and I’ve already seen it before most of the time, or I just don’t care. How can I change this behavior?

Ellen T.

Dear Ellen,

Remember the days where people used to have entire posts of links to other things on the internet, because the only person with social media was Ezra Klein? Now, it’s difficult not to be bombarded by awful things such as that life-size doll you linked to or a podcast about the international drug trade.

As always, the best way to get someone to change their behavior is to put them on the receiving end of it. Absolutely flood her with links – here’s one you should probably include just to be comprehensive – and begin every sentence with those fateful words – “I was listening to a podcast.” That’s actually how the reverend at my church started his sermon this week. He was shouted down, not unlike Jesus. I made a video of it. I’ll snapchat it to you.

Illustrations by Mia Nguyen. Access This Recording’s full site at


“Seventeen Years” – Ratatat (mp3)

“El Pico” – Ratatat (mp3)

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