It’s easy to throw out a generalized statement, like pimps and whores, which pigeon-holes large groups of people together, and which usually serves only to focus their differences against one another. Like blacks and whites, or christians and muslims, us and them, and so on. This was brought abruptly to my attention recently when one member (a developer), in a programming language jobs group I run, threw out a barb at another member (an agent). This is not a popularity contest and it doesn’t matter who was involved. The comment was something like “they’re only agents because they can’t do anything else”. An equivalent retort might be “developers like to hit and run”. If either of these hit you, then ouch!
This is the same kind of remark as “if you can’t do, then teach”, which is equally awful. There are of course teachers to whom this applies (I know several), but there are equally a huge number of teachers to whom this most definitely does not apply (I know several). And, predictably, the best teachers are those who enjoy their work, as you’d expect to find in any professional field.
Not only are the unthinking statements referred to above rude and abusive, they are also demonstrably false. In fact, dropping careless and thoughtless comments of this kind into public and professional groups is manifestly ignorant. It’s not a matter of political correctness, of not being able to criticize someone because they’re gay and you don’t like it. It’s a matter of attempting to avoid flame wars by observing respect for one another. There’s a solid and historical netiquette post which covers a lot of this ground, as true today as when it was written in the last millenium.
Please don’t misunderstand me, I’m not on a superior soap box here. I’m as guilty of sweeping generalizations (from time to time) as the next man, or woman. In my time I’ve embarrassed myself more times than I can count on that score, and others. The point I’m trying to make is that we need to acknowledge the error, the rudeness, and to apologize where appropriate, and then to try to avoid repeating the error in future.
It might be that there is some kernel of truth in any of the above statements, or they might just as likely be complete garbage. However, it’s seems very often to be the case that, when examined, such a generalization will actually be an entirely invalid statement, eg; bullshit. So, let’s try to lower the bullshit quota and concentrate on posting more meaningful statements, which are backupable by reasoned arguments rather than heated emotion. The knee-jerk may be immediately satisfying but is rarely useful during intelligent discourse. Lastly, please note that the aim here is not to penalize, the aim is to educate and to improve how we interact.
Pimps and whores
A good friend of mine had the habit of referring to agents and developers as pimps and whores. If you’ve spent any time in the industry, you’ll probably appreciate the mildly amusing and light-spirited comparison. The difference with this remark of course, is that it’s not one-sided, both parties are sharing the apparently negative connotation, and it produces an even playing field where we can happily toast one another across the pub table. We’re able to use each other’s experience and skill set to our mutual advantage, this is known as a working partnership and is to be encouraged. So don’t alienate them.
The simple rule is clear, engage brain before posting on the Internet.