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Ottawa, Ontario

Just a little corner of the interwebz where I occasionally jot down a thought or two. Why do I do it? Partly to communicate in some way with you, the reader, and partly because it's some sad way of leaving a legacy of some kind I guess.


Hate as a Side Effect of Impact

Jonathan Tom

Being up front with you about this, I did not write this article but when I read this it resonated with me so I wanted to share it with you. Below is a snippet but I want to encourage you to go check out Oliver Emberton's Blog.

As your actions impact more people, the less those people will understand you:


Imagine a face-to-face conversation, with motives and nuance:


As it spreads, the simple message is interpreted:


And outright distorted:


This happens even when people read the exact same words on a screen. We just do it in our heads.

The only thing this process needs is enough people. If you’re impacting enough people in any way, you’re going to be tragically misrepresented in the time it takes a teenager to poop out a tweet.

You can avoid all of this by not doing anything important. If your biggest decision in life is what you change your desktop wallpaper to, no problem. But if you want to write a bestseller or end poverty or change the world in any way whatsoever you’re gonna have to cope with pissing off people entirely by accident.

Just Because Someone is Offended Doesn't Mean They're Right

Think back to a time when you were angry – say you were cut off in traffic. How intelligent were you when you were pissed off?


Anger is an emotional response, and a spectacularly stupid one. It’s almost never in proportion, nor is it necessarily even just. It’s a fleeting impulse, like thinking a stranger is cute or preferring one colour over another.

And like any such impulse, the usual provocation for anger is association. Some people might hate Apple, others hate Google. Some people are right wing, others left. Say something nice about one group, and you’ll ignite the primal rage in the others before they can stop to think. Pretty much everyone thinks like this, sadly, unless they’re trying really hard.

Which leads to a crucial conclusion: conforming to other people’s anger is caving to the most stupid part of their nature.

Be an asshole and ignore those, um, assholes.

The only way to avoid pissing people off is to do nothing important. Which leaves you with a choice, whether you like it or not: where will you settle on this scale?


Most of us fear upsetting the emotions of others. When we upset people, we’re compelled to justify ourselves. We yearn to win over our detractors. We seek everyone’s approval. And just one criticism among a hundred compliments burns into our brain like a cigarette.

That’s actually a good sign. It means you’re not really an asshole. Just don’t be afraid to act like one where it matters.