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Here’s What Happened When I Spent a Day Doing Everything According to WikiHow

From cutting my own hair to making balloon animals, I was surprised to find the legendarily dumb site was right more often than wrong

Honestly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a good thing about WikiHow. While it touts itself as “the most trusted how-to site on the internet,” WikiHow is notorious for its overly complicated instructions that are full of needless steps, like this guide on how to find the end of a roll of tape, which has several steps on utilizing flour for this purpose.  

It also has simply bizarre entries, like How to Keep a Marble as a Pet and How to Act Like a Furby. There’s even a popular Reddit thread that’s solely dedicated to just how weird WikiHow is. As for their advice on how to be funny on a date: eesh.

Mostly because of all this, until about a week ago, I’d never used WikiHow — I’d only heard vague rumblings about the silliness of it. But then, what if I’ve been wrong? What if it’s actually a treasure-trove of useful, life-altering daily hacks? 

There was only one way to find out: Live my entire life via WikiHow advice (or the entire day of June 18th, at least). Let us begin!

6 a.m. — “Wake Up in the Morning Successfully

To prepare myself for my WikiHow day, the night before, I located the WikiHow on how to “Wake Up in the Morning Successfully,” the first steps of which were to set an alarm clock the night before and place it across the room. This is something I’ve done many times when I have to wake up early, though for the past three months during the pandemic, I’ve just set my phone and hit the snooze button a dozen times before getting up, so doing this was a pretty effective means of getting me out of bed — even if it did piss me off.

The next steps were to open all the blinds and turn on all the lights. I did this in every room but the bedroom, as my wife was already fairly unhappy about the obnoxious alarm clock. I was feeling a bit groggy, but I still followed through with the next step to wake me up: take a cold shower. 

I wanted to make this experience as quick as possible, so naturally, I looked up “How to Take a Quick Shower” and followed the advice. The water was freezing fucking cold, and, to make the shower quick, WikiHow said to only wash my hair, face and groin, so I did. The shower wasn’t really all that quick, though, because I had to keep psyching myself up to get back under the cold water. 

After the cold shower, I resumed the routine laid out for waking up successfully. The next steps were to drink a glass of ice water and to “plug in your headphones and play upbeat songs as you get dressed in the morning.” After locating my headphones, I put on Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher” — my go-to song for getting in a better mood. It was kind of a pain in the ass to navigate getting dressed around the headphone wire, but it did help to lift my mood a little after the abrupt wake-up and the frustratingly cold shower.

7 a.m. — “How to Make a Healthy Breakfast

My waking-up instructions then called for me to make some breakfast, so I found a WikiHow recipe for microwaved eggs — something I’ve hated ever since I was a kid. I especially hate microwaving eggs because frying an egg is just about the easiest thing in the world. But alas, this was my WikiHow life now, so microwaved eggs it would be.

I chopped up some vegetables — peppers and scallions — and mixed them in with two beaten eggs and an ounce of cheese, as per the instructions. Then I placed them in the microwave. The directions said to nuke it for 30 seconds, mix it up again and do it another 30 seconds “or until the eggs are solid.” All told, this takes nearly three minutes in the microwave, which means the initial one minute it called for was way off.

I then scraped these gross-looking eggs out of the bowl and put them on a wheat wrap. Unsurprisingly, the breakfast wasn’t good at all as the eggs were bland and mushy. Seriously WikiHow, frying an egg is easy as fuck — try it sometime.

Going back to the morning routine, I next went for a morning run for 20 minutes. Normally I’d do this later in the day or before a shower so that I’m not sweating like hell after being newly cleaned off, but whatever, the run was fine. 

I finished up the wake-up routine by brushing my teeth. The instructions called for peppermint, claiming that it makes people more alert, but I only had “Fresh Mint,” which I figured was close enough. By the way, that peppermint claim is bullshit.

8:15 a.m. — “How to Drive

I needed to run to Walmart to get some ingredients for my planned WikiHow dinner and picnic lunch, so I wanted to do it as early as possible before it got too crowded. I’ve previously figured out that Walmart is a fucking zoo under lockdown, so going super early or super late is the smart play. 

Fortunately, WikiHow’s instructions on driving were totally sane, and they said to put your phone away before leaving the house, which thankfully meant I couldn’t look at WikiHow while driving. I arrived at Walmart just a few minutes later as it’s right around the corner from me. Fortunately, WikiHow has no entries for shopping in Walmart, and honestly, given the pandemic, I probably would have ignored them anyway. 

9 a.m. — “How to Make a Phone Call

Once I got home, I immediately had to make a few calls for work, and fortunately, WikiHow’s instructions were simple and accurate so I wasn’t late for either of my calls. 

10:45 a.m. — “How to Wrap Oddly Shaped Gifts

At Walmart, I’d bought a stuffed Baby Yoda for my daughter, which she’s been obsessed with lately. Baby Yoda is hardly an easy-to-wrap shape, so I looked up WikiHow instructions on wrapping oddly shaped gifts. One method they suggested was making a bag out of wrapping paper, which sounded complicated as fuck, so I turned to the next entry, which suggested wrapping the item in paper streamer. This worked out pretty well, even if Baby Yoda’s hand was sticking out. 

The streamer did the job though, and my daughter was thrilled with Baby Yoda

12 p.m. — “How to Use Google Meet

I had my normal daily MEL writers’ meeting at noon, and WikiHow offered up fairly basic advice for using Google Meet, but the steps were so long and complex that it made me a couple of minutes late to the meeting. WikiHow also encouraged trying out features like closed captioning, screen sharing and using the chatbox, none of which I followed because it’s a fucking work meeting and I need to get stuff done. Still, if I was new to Google Meet or needed to use those features, I guess they would have been helpful?

1:20 p.m. — “How to Reheat Pizza

Originally I’d planned a picnic lunch with my family, as I thought it’d be nice to do, and WikiHow had a bunch of very silly instructions like “Make and distribute formal invitations for a bit of fun,” but by the time my meeting was over, I was starving and my family had already eaten. So I had no patience for a picnic according to WikiHow. Instead, I looked up their instructions on how to heat up leftover slices of pizza, which worked out just fine.

1:25 p.m. — “How to Write a Haiku Poem

After finishing up most of what I needed to do for the day, I decided to use WikiHow to expand my horizons a bit, so I planned out a few different things that I didn’t really know how to do. The first thing was learn how to write a haiku, something I probably did in middle school and never again afterwards. The first few steps were very WikiHow-type steps, which encouraged me to go outside and look at nature to brainstorm ideas, as well as to read up on other haikus. I did all of these things, but I ultimately decided to write my haiku about WikiHow. So, following the pattern of five syllables, seven syllables and then five syllables, this is what I wrote: 

WikiHow and me
No snooze, cold shower, bad eggs
I hate WikiHow

2 p.m. — “How to Cut Your Own Hair (Men)

I probably needed a haircut when the pandemic started, and over the past three months, it’s gotten longer and progressively more annoying. With this, I resolved to use WikiHow for cutting my own hair, something I considered to be a mistake from the second it popped into my head.

As per the instructions, I started with clippers up the side of my head, and upon seeing that first chunk of hair fall into my sink, all I kept saying to myself was, “This is a mistake, this is a mistake.” Still, I soldiered on, buzzing the sides and then the back. Next, I turned my clipper’s gauge up a little to try to fade it as I went closer to the top of my head.

When it came to the hair atop my dome, I was more distraught than ever. My hair looked like shit, but there was no going back. The next thing WikiHow called for was to use some styling shears to trim the top, but despite having a pair, I couldn’t find them anywhere, meaning I had to use kitchen scissors instead, which was precisely what WikiHow said not to do. No matter, I wasn’t going back to Walmart for styling shears. And so, kitchen scissors it was.

WikiHow said to start from the front and take a little hair at a time in between my fingers, then to work my way back a row at a time. I followed this, all the while cursing to myself and regretting this whole thing as I got more and more hair all over the bathroom.

By the end of it, though, once the bulk of my top hair was removed and I trimmed some lingering patches in the back, I actually thought that my WikiHow cut looked kind of, well, good. It wasn’t perfect, and I found some stray long hairs here and there, but considering that I’d never cut any hair before — much less my own — I was pretty damn impressed with myself. My wife even gave it a seven out of ten, which I was more than happy with.

I then trimmed my beard via WikiHow and took an “after” picture via WikiHow’s convoluted selfie advice. But even that — along with another, quick, cold shower — didn’t dampen my newfound good feelings toward WikiHow.

3:35 p.m. — “How to Make Balloon Animals

Next, I turned to something else I’ve never done: making balloon animals. I’d bought balloons and a pump from Walmart that morning, fully prepared to fail at this task. After all, those clowns don’t make it look easy. 

The instructions first showed how to do some basic balloon animal ties, like a basic twist, a lock twist and a fold twist, which I did before moving onto my first actual animal. There are instructions on how to make a dog, a monkey and a swan in WikiHow, and my daughter said that she wanted a swan first, which I was happy about because it looked the easiest. 

Following WikiHow’s instructions step-by-step, I think I managed to make a fairly decent swan, even if its head never looked quite right. I then made a dog, which ended up a little tall for my taste, but perhaps it was a greyhound or a Great Dane

Finally, I made a monkey. It was definitely the toughest one, and I popped a balloon on my first monkey attempt. Monkey number two, though, was a success, even if I didn’t have enough monkey left to make him a real tail. Instead, he just had a little nub back there. Still, not all that bad.

A misshapen swan, a tall dog, a tailless monkey and a flower hat — pretty damn good for a first time.

I was actually impressed by WikiHow yet again. The balloon animal instructions were all quick, two-second video loops that laid out everything really clearly, one twist at a time. I even used my newfound balloon animal knowledge to make my daughter a pretty flower hat.

4:45 p.m. — “How to Paint a Portrait

I’m no artist, but I do like to draw on occasion. Usually I draw more cartoon-y stuff with pencils though, as I always found paint to be annoying to work with. This is why I decided to paint a self-portrait next, to once again expand my horizons via WikiHow. 

For this, I followed WikiHow’s steps bit-by-bit, starting with a sketch of my head shape and then drawing my eyes. Next, it said to create the face’s other details with a pencil before starting with the paint. When it was time to start painting, I used “light mocha” for the face’s shadows and “peach” for the lighter tones. I think neither is perfect, but it’s all Walmart had that morning, so I bought both. I started with the darker parts as WikiHow instructed me, and then moved onto the lighter areas.

It took more than an hour, but this is how it turned out.

My daughter described the face as “creepy” and my wife said it looked like a composite sketch, but — despite his eyes being a bit uneven — I think the portrait turned out pretty well, especially since I hadn’t painted like this since high school. Sure he’s a little bug-eyed, but I think he’s not half bad.

6:15 p.m. — “How to Stir Fry

I’ve stir-fried before, but only once or twice and I’ve got a wok in the kitchen that I almost never use, so I decide to use WikiHow to make a little stir-fry shrimp with peanut sauce. The instructions were fairly straightforward and free of bizarre, frivolous steps, so it all went fairly smoothly. I even set the table according to WikiHow (even if we only have placemats for kids).

Once again, it was surprisingly decent, though I hadn’t realized the peanut sauce was spicy, so both my daughter and wife couldn’t eat it. Still, I considered it a victory — it was just a victory with leftovers.

7:45 p.m. — “How to Read Comics

Lately, I’ve been reading my kid Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles comics at bedtime, which, to my utter delight, she’s really gotten into. So I read her a comic per the annoying WikiHow instructions on which order to read the panels in. It was all accurate advice, but, like always, using WikiHow for shit I already know how to do was tedious. 

8:30 p.m. — “How to Drink Beer

Drinking a beer, though, was the one exception to this rule, as I already know how to do this very well, but I actually found the WikiHow steps to better the experience. I chose one of my favorites — “Mother’s Milk” from my local brewery, Keegan Ales — and used the kind of mug WikiHow suggested is right for a stout. I poured the beer according to the steps, swirled it and smelled it — again, exactly as WikiHow instructed — all of which was pleasant and did make me enjoy the beer more.

I sipped my beer as my wife and I played Yahtzee according to WikiHow. The instructions seemed really long considering we already knew how to play, but we still had fun (my wife won three rounds and I won two). 

10:15 p.m. — “How to Fall Asleep

After Yahtzee, I followed WikiHow’s unimaginably long instructions for how to brush your teeth and headed to bed. WikiHow had a bunch of tips to fall asleep, so I employed just about all of them — like the relaxation and breathing exercises — though I refrained from the sleeping pills it mentioned. 

Before I went to sleep, however, I decided to revisit something I’d done earlier in the day — my haiku. Back when I wrote it, I was still early in my WikiHow day and I’d found the site to be annoying, which was much the attitude that I assumed I would have going into this thing. Just like my adventure as a Times Square mascot, or when I wiped my ass with a Sears catalog for a week, I expected this to be a miserable slog, but I ended up being pleasantly surprised by WikiHow. Not only did it teach me a few new skills, it also made my daughter happy and my beer a bit better. With that, I wrote another haiku just before bed, this time with a full appreciation for how WikiHow can improve one’s life. 

WikiHow and me
Hair cut, balloons bent, beer smelled
WikiHow is dope