Don’t Be Mean

A few weeks ago I saw something that made me sad: Craig Hockenberry, a Cocoa developer I once looked up to, tweeted this mean thing:

My new approach to dealing with uninvited contact:

Put yourself in Bennett’s shoes for a moment. How do you think he would feel getting an email like this? When I was starting as an iOS developer, I looked up to people like Craig. He was well known in the community, had lots of great experience under his belt, and seemed like someone you could learn a lot from. If I had sent him an unsolicited email asking about Cocoa dev, and he’d replied with something like this (and then tweeted it!), that would have absolutely devastated me.

I don’t know the all the context behind this tweet. Maybe this Bennett character is a real asshole, but that’s not really revealed in Craig’s tweet. What’s revealed here is Craig proudly sharing his mean response.

If you get a lot of unsolicited email, I imagine that’s super annoying, but it’s mean to respond like this, and it’s meaner still to publicly shame the poor guy. All Craig needed to do here was not reply.

Worse than being mean, this is sharing the meanness with everyone who follows him. I was very sad to see Dave Verwer link to it at the bottom of iOS Dev Weekly, sharing it with further more people.

And finally…

If you see this meanness shared and celebrated on Twitter or Slack or elsewhere, please stand up against it. Put yourself in the shoes of other people and try to imagine how they might read it. If you were new to iOS dev (or any community where this happens), how would this make you feel? Would you want to be the person laughing at the meanness, or would you want to be the person stopping it?

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Kate Brennan
Firstly, 👏, more like this please!

I think even talking about being "mean" gets challenging. Many people will fixate on examples or particular context, and this kind of conversation usually comes up when someone is on the defensive. 

There are many ways to respond to someone about not wanting to talk without condescending. Especially in cautious or introductory conversations, there should be extra consideration that a person is putting themselves out on a limb. If you don't want to engage with that person, you could just do that - not engage at all. Spiteful replies in this sort of instance technically extends the conversation you didn't want o have and returns ill will that may have never been the original sender's intent in the first place.

I think it's truly a rare case where someone should lash back. In instances where you are speaking in self-defense from vitriolic statements, maybe even feeling pride for standing up, sharing the exchange might be inflammatory for someone else. I have mixed feelings on this final point, because I do think it's important to not hide or turn back from mistreatment, but the question is really more about "Do I need to broadcast my clapback because this will help others, or will my sharing of this conversation that had started with an insult/attack/etc. pain others?" 


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