Seth Godin's blog entry today sums up so much of my frustration with much of what I see on the Net:
Yes, I know you're a master of the web, that you've visited every website written in English, that you've been going to SXSW for ten years, that you were one of the first bloggers, you used Foursquare before it was cool and you can code in HTML in your sleep. Yes, I know that you sit in the back of the room tweeting clever ripostes when speakers are up front failing on a panel and that you had a LOLcat published before they stopped being funny.
But what have you shipped?
What have you done with your connection skills that has been worthy of criticism, that moved the dial and that changed the world?
Go, do that.
Right on, Seth. To that list of "so you can..." I'd add
- You're a master debater on Slashdot and Reddit
- You're quick with a link to letmegooglethatforyou.com
- You correct people in the ways in which they ask questions in IRC
The tough part is that most of the things that you do "with your connection skills that has been worthy of criticism, that moved the dial and that changed the world" require you to get off your ass and get out from behind a keyboard.
Ever given a talk at a user group meeting? Ever organized a conference? Or lined up a speaker for a user group meeting? Written an article or blog post where people say "That's changed the way I look at things?" Or created software where people say "I don't know how I lived without this?"
When Seth talks about "moved the dial and changed the world," I'll even set the bar a bit lower. When was the last time someone thanked you for downvoting someone on reddit, or being an oh-so-clever snark poster on Slashdot? Ever received appreciations for pointing out what you perceived as someone's shortcomings in a flame war?
Which is more likely?
- "Thanks for telling that guy your negative opinion of him."
- "Thanks for that presentation on Ruby modules."
- "Thanks for reaching level 75 on Farmville."
- "Thanks for putting together this group. I learned a lot."
Get out there from behind your keyboard and do something that builds rather than tears down.