It’s entertainment (I suppose), and it helps to see it that way, just like it helps to remember that talk radio is not journalism but audio theater, like professional wrestling for people who don’t look good in Spandex.
However, someone’s tweet took me to Carr’s column in The Guardian. He starts with a stranger at a big conference walking up to Michael Arrington of Techcrunch–and spitting in his face.
Carr recounts praise he himself received for past verbal snarkiness. He seems a bit taken aback: “It seems recently that I’ve developed a reputation for hating things.” As he adds, it’s much easier to make jokes about how bad something is than how good it is.
Carr offers a few ideas:
- If you’ve got something to say online, say it in your own name.
- If you want to get personal about someone you don’t know, save it for private mails and chat.
- (Carr may have more faith in “private” than I do.)
- Balance yourself. If the ratio of mean to nice/neutral is much worse than 3:1, then you’re part of the problem.
- Make your own judgments. Reading online that someone is annoying or stupid doesn’t make it true of them. Believing it without research does make it true of you.
I’d add that there’s nothing much new about flaming and posturing–we had it by the cubic yard on GEnie, back in 1984 or so. Frankly, that’s why I think Technorati/Feedburner/Digg and similar “metrics” don’t butter many parsnips.
I wish Carr well in his effort to change the way he works. My own track record at self-improvement isn’t something I’ll post anywhere any time soon. I try to keep in mind advice like this:
Consult not your fears but your hopes and your dreams. Think not about your frustrations, but about your unfulfilled potential. Concern yourself not with what you tried and failed in, but with what it is still possible for you to do.
— Pope John XXIII