Bring Back the Tech Scene Love
This has been something rattling around my noggin for quite some time. It has put me in a bad mood more than once and I’ve had to resist the urge to write about this while in that state. I think if I had, I would be guilty of being the very thing I am writing about here: a negative tech scene jerkass.
Fortunately, today, I’m in a good mood so I can approach this pink elephant without being downwind of its stench. This would be yet another elephant outed on this blog.
Let’s wind the clocks back to about two and a half years ago. It was the summer of 2010 and the social media boom was revving up to its zenith. Social media was still a shiny bauble that no one truly understood but, frankly, nobody cared what it meant. The sheer fact that people were connecting on twitter, facebook etc was amazing and so much fun. If you wanted to go out somewhere and needed some company all you had to do was tweet out and some friendly folks, some you may have not even met yet, would be lacing up their shoes to meet for a beer or whatever trouble you could get into. Why? Because people just wanted to get to know one another and learn something new.
If you wanted to meet a lot more people en masse, there were Tumblr meetings (remember those?), tweetups, drinkups and so on. Everyone was on equal footing and no one claimed to be an expert in anything. People were connecting on a very human level – no pretense, no vapid self-importance, and little bullshit. It was awesome, nearly utopian. A veritable summer of love. I miss it.
Then at some point near the tail end of winter, some people began to call themselves social media experts and started criticizing everyone else in order to build a name for themselves as people who supposedly saw frivolity in the above. Real social media and web citizenship, to them, was not about good will and discovery, instead it was about having so-called expertise informed by marketing practices. They would write scathing blog posts, do cat calls because some of the harder working bloggers got free swag (they were really just jealous, let’s be real here), and even speak at community organized conferences (i.e. Podcamp and similar panels) about how all that love was nonsense and the “love fest” should be done away with. What’s worse is that these detractors have parlayed their supposed heightened expertise into jobs!
Absolute bull-honky. These guys became the tech scene jerkasses and are a big part of the schisms and dramatic nonsense that goes on in many similar communities. I mean, what the hell happened? Were these people so afraid that their value as marketing bollocksmen was so at risk that they had to go all negative nancy on people they used to call friends? Were they afraid that their employers would wake up and smell the bullshit, so they went ahead and called bullshit on the whole social media thing preemptively so as not to be swept away so callously as most newcomers are nowadays? They just wanted to look like they knew what the hell they were talking about in a field that was still being pioneered! It’s not like there were accepted university or college courses teaching this stuff!
Some of the genuinely smart and benevolent ones went and started their own businesses and have created a community above all that rat race crap. These entrepreneurs live a tough life trying to build something from nothing, and are thus united in their struggle like brothers and sisters. The even nicer ones in the scene chased their dreams and realized them in other cities (there were some real saints here, who when they departed, took the glue with them) and now stand as people to look up to.
I realize that pointing all this out isn’t the nicest thing to hear but someone had to say it, I guess. Perhaps now that it’s out in the open, web communities across the continent can start to heal. Enemies can become friends again, bygones can be bygones, and we can bring back the love that made it so exciting to live in the tech scene in a new age of discovery.