Comic: A Nacho MomentMonday, February 14th, 2011
Humanity, it seems, is destined to fight with itself over every little detail. That’s probably not new information to you.
Thanks to the Internet, we don’t even need stamps or to be in someone’s physical presence to have these arguments. As anyone with a net connection knows, this means we will get into heated, acrimonious fights over topics as unimportant as who the hell was Papa Smurf’s partner in creating his dozens of smurf offspring. And we’ll stew over it. And we’ll 386 someone because of it. And we’ll lose sleep and remove friends from Facebook over it.
As as developer/designer who follows the same category of people on Twitter, many of the Internet fights I witness involve web standards, the tools we use as developers, the erotic-sounding but thoroughly disappointing topic of hashbangs and anything in between. Heck, I participate in these brawls, throwing acorns at the whole mess.
There’s a lot of reasons for these fights, but most often we argue because we care. The products we make as professionals mean a lot to us. We want the best for our medium and our industry, and so we get trenchant about Flash, HTML5, naming conventions, design techniques or the proper shade of blue. Because to us it matters. It matters a lot. And there is nothing wrong with that level of passion about your work. Quite the opposite. If you can’t imagine yourself fiercely defending what you do as an occupation, maybe you need a different career.
However, in the process we frequently seem to forget that we’re dealing with other people. Passionate people, some of which are just as informed as we are. Or even more so. And believe it or not, they’re entitled to have arrived at different conclusions than us. Yet, so often something about the Internet seems to boil away the concept of the right to respectfully disagree.
Last week, Zeldman and Keith got into a debate over a blog post by Andy Rutledge on the subject of Kickstarter. At times it seemed heated, and due to the nature of the medium they were debating in it was both very public and very abrupt. Then the next day Zeldman posted a series of tweets carefully reiterating his view, made it clear that Keith was his friend and simply saying “sorry” for the whole confusion. In front of an audience of 144,000 followers. Jeremy replied in the same vein.
It shouldn’t seem amazing that two people apologize over a fight in public. But somehow, on today’s Internet, it’s all but unheard of.
There’s a strange comfort in knowing that our Internet heroes are just as capable of the same fallacies we are.
It’s inspiring to see them follow it up by providing good examples by rising to a level of good behavior we rarely get to witness in social media today.
I’ve termed this sudden cessation of hostilities (without ceding the value of each party’s opinions) as a “nacho moment“, so named thanks to a moment of intentional, deliberate hilarity by Dave Shea best summarized by this pair of tweets. It’s a testament to his actions that I don’t even recall what large debate was going on before his tweets, but do know that afterward the Internet got a little less contentious and the Seattle area’s nacho sales rose just a bit.
Don’t stop caring about the things you care about, whether it’s the Smurfs or funding crowdsourcing. But when you’re in a debate, have a nacho moment and remember you’re talking to other people. People who also care.