Empathy In The Time Of Twitter

How many tweets have you seen like this?

"No, this is doing it wrong: http://github.com/joecoder/joeslibrary"

Probably a few, right? Maybe a couple of Hacker News comments, too. Probably not just about Github repos either: I've seen 140-character attacks on blog posts, Dribbble shots, startups, anything imaginable that someone put a lot of effort into. And I just really don't like seeing these quick dismissals. They're hollow, inconsiderate, and maybe even a little mean.

But here's the worst part: this behavior is fairly rational. In a world where you're as respected as how many retweets you get, it's in your benefit to err on the outlandish and aggressive rather than the constructive and thoughtful. To evoke quick, cheap emotions and get the easy retweet. Our attention spans have shrunk and made it that much easier to consume the more shallow analyses.

That sort of commentary isn't the majority, though sometimes it can be the loudest. It's not just the tech community in particular, either: cheap snark is just something that comes with any soapbox. Shock and awe gets upvoted, on and offline. It's just easier on the internet to go after someone who is wrong.

So if you ever find yourself in the middle of composing a snarky tweet about someone's project, or find your finger descending onto the "Retweet" button of that sort of writing...take a second.

Think about the guy on the other side of the conversation, the one "doing it wrong." Does your comment really need to be said like that? Is it adding to the discussion, or is it for your benefit more than theirs? Really empathize and remember about how it feels to have your hard work so easily disregarded. Be thoughtful. Retweets can be rewarding, but restraint is admirable.