One of the odd things about my job is that I often get to meet people I or someone in my company has written or podcasted about. That might be via a direct mention or an indirect one. For example, my company might cover a product and offer some commentary on it–indirect. We might mention a specific company in a positive or negative light, depending on our opinion–indirect. We might mention specific people if there is a good reason to do so–direct.
Meeting people we’ve talked about, directly or not, brings a poignant perspective to creating content for a wide audience. It’s personal. Somebody made a decision to create the product that way. Some group of humans worked on that standard. Real people decided on that process.
Is it appropriate to cast those people in a negative light and share that opinion with an audience? Sometimes…yes, at times even crucially necessary, if unfortunate. Sometimes…maybe not. Sometimes it’s okay to shut up. To show restraint. To chain the snark monster.
Stirring the pot can be fun. Yelling into a righteous megaphone about where the nasty thing hurt you feels empowering. But it’s only half of the equation. It’s the half that you see. You had a bad experience. You went through this time of stress because of this thing. You’re cynical as an outsider looking in who can’t imagine why something turned out badly from your point of view.
The other half of the equation is the rest of the story–the people involved in creating the thing you don’t like.
Do you create content that you make available to the general public? Think about your creation before hitting publish. Again, I’m not suggesting people and products are beyond criticism. Far from it. But make sure that what you’ve said is accurate, fair, balanced, defensible, and considers a broad spectrum of viewpoints.
If you don’t make certain of these elements but publish anyway, you’ve strayed into the realm of narcissism. You’re keen to get your opinion out there and gain some attention from your audience, but not so keen to do the homework required to come to a responsibly informed point of view.
There are real people involved. You might meet them someday.