You have probably read more than one thing I have written where I was a dick, either on purpose or incidentally. I likely wasn’t trying to be a dick at the outset, but yeah, I ended up being a dick. It could have been a review chastising an app solely for the color of their icon, or snark about Google tracking everything we do — it could have been just about anything.
Whatever the case, I have become well-known for being a dick. It’s ok, you can agree — I do.
So today I am writing to tell you that your time is better spent on doing any other than activity than on being a dick. It took me a while to realize this,1 but being a dick is really not all that fun.
How it Defines You
Being a dick makes you:
- more cynical about everything.
- cranky, about everything.
- get lessened enjoyment out of life.
- less enjoyable to be around, because your lack of enjoyment makes others lose their enjoyment of things.
You are actually better off taking a nap. A nap would make you happier, healthier, smarter, and a better writer than being a dick ever will. That’s just science.
But being a dick gets you noticed. People like the dick attitude for the few times where they need the dick to say something that no one else is willing to say.
You get infamous.
You get pageviews.
You get known.
But it is still not worth it.
None of this is to say that I, or that you, should stop being who you are. I won’t stop being who I am, but who I am is not the dick that I come across as. The dickish nature likely came about because I wrote something dickish that got really popular and I tried to then keep riding that high.
And in riding the high I lost sight of what I was actually saying, or more accurately how I was saying it. That’s not to say anything I said was inaccurate, but what I mean is that it was not properly presented. That’s very unfortunate for everyone.
The problem that arose for me was losing sight of the distinction between being an astute critic who is willing to go against the common opinion, and being a dick. There is a fine line between those two things and I want to be known as an astute critic, not as a dick.
An astute critic makes clear points in a non-aggressive, non-inflammatory, way. This is what is wrong, this is what is right — backed up by the whys and the hows.
You show thought instead of snark. Where as a dick just says: this is shit.
Oh, but there is still room to be snarky and if you choose to do so you must time it correctly, and not overdo it. And above all else you still have to back it up with solid reasoning.
Snark is best in small chunks.
I became known as a dick because I had lost my patience in truly thinking through and considering what I meant when I would write: “this looks like shit”. That’s not who I am, or how I think, but that is very much who I came across as to those that read this site.2
Now when I write I am trying to take it slowly. Allowing time to marinate, to think, to re-think, to re-write, to edit, and to make sure that what I am writing comes across as well balanced, and not something dick-ish.
I aspire to offer the depth of thought that my pal Shawn Blanc does, or the prose that Matt Gemmell so fluidly offers. As I have said before, this whole thing should be about the quality of everything not just the quantity of things.
And through this work, deliberation, and effort I can put forth work that is better in quality and is therefore worth my time writing, and your time reading.
After almost four years of being known as a dick, my advice to you is this: try to never let that label be applied to you, your writing, or your thoughts. If you need an outlet for the dickish things, Twitter works well.