Dear Abby

Why We Read Dear Abby

Matt: The Dear Abby pen name has been in use since 1956 and is the closest thing we have to an advice column empire when you look at the wider family narrative. But legacy alone doesn't explain her rise to the throne: Phillips' snappy one-liners and overall determinedly terse answers attract readers looking for a quick advice hit while also courting rabid commenting behavior by virtue of leaving the door very wide open for others to elaborate with their personal anecdotes and, oftentimes, argue. In that way, her community is a bit like Thanksgiving dinners with the family. That she is willing to own her mistakes and cede her platform to those who have called her out is an admirable trait and makes her an "agony aunt" who warmly welcomes a dialog rather than one who just craves the sound of her own voice and detests when you speak up. Abby is as accessible as she is venerable, a rare mix indeed.