If you consider yourself a techie and somewhat active online, you probably have encountered them–discussions about tech. I’m in doubt whether to call them discussions, as they rarely are. They are often verbal assaults of tech-related opinions and preferences. Why? What can we do about it?
Whether you’re on twitter, reading replies on a blog or discuss tech on a forum, any mention of tech erupts discussions. It’s like boiling opinions rest beneath the surface and once one reaches the surface, it all explodes! If you’re in a close proximity of the epicentre, you either get squashed, burned alive or choke in toxic fumes.
Why are people so ready to jump on each other, to rip down others' ideas and proclaim their own as superior?— Scott O'Hara (@scottohara) July 20th, 2017
Recently my friend Sara Soueidan shared her opinion on CSS frameworks. Many people felt the urge to tell her wrong or ask passive aggressive questions to prove their point.
Choosing Tech is Hard
When choosing an open-source library, for example, I consider a lot of things. To name a few:
- Ease of use
- Ease of implementation
- Influence on my productivity
- Project activity
- Open issues
My choices are well-advised, and I like to think the choice of others is too.
The Urge to Defend
When lacking context, how do we fill in the gaps? With assumptions. If someone states their choice without argumentation, it’s too easy to compare that with your choice, assuming the same point of view–your own.
Although not always the case, it’s not hard to experience that as being told wrong. In this case, it’s not the tech that is at stake, it’s your own identity. Who you are, what you do and what you believe in. That is hard not to fight.
It takes little empathy to understand that the other person lives an identical life. We all have different experiences and values, and therefore different opinions. I think most people in tech have enough empathy or are at least intelligent enough to understand this. Perhaps experiencing the event as an assault on identity makes it harder to practise empathy or intelligence. I don’t know.
Whenever you wish to share your preference, try to be clear it’s an opinion, not fact. I could name a few vegetables I dislike, but that doesn’t make them terrible. They are considered edible, so surely some people must enjoy them. Stating it as an opinion might prevent some people turning into nasties.
If you run into someone stating their preference as a fact, chillax! Your choice is your own, just like theirs is. The tech you love today will be replaced at some point, so don’t get too attached.