San Francisco, California

Pedantry

There’s a guy that’s famous for sliding into conversations between type folks when they’re having a discussion on Twitter. He’ll always break up the party with a “well actually” no matter what the topic happens to be or who it is that happens to be speaking. Even if this chap is interrupting and correcting the foremost expert in the field he’ll always find something snarky to point out.

On this note, typography is often mistaken for knowing about the right fonts and remembering the names or styles of typefaces. Subsequently typography is often the pedant’s weapon of choice for making people feel dumb. And just as design is not the art of having opinions and tweeting about them, typography is not the art of dunking on people that say ‘fonts’ inside of ‘type’.

And I see the same thing happening in front-end development circles where there’s a collection of cool dudes that will always punch down, always fill the conversation with snark and cynicism. Their voices are loud and carry out over the vast landscape with retweets and likes.

This is sort of a duh obvious thing to say but Twitter incentivizes this quality of conversation somehow. If you dunk on CSS then you’ll be retweeted hundreds of times if you just include a silly gif and some half-baked snark with it.

I guess I’m wondering what would happen to tweets like these if statistics about retweets, likes, and followers were disabled. What would happen if you were forced to just be a person on Twitter instead of a brand ambassador for X, Y, or Z technology? I bet we wouldn’t be having these types of arguments at all because there would be no incentive to stirring the nest.

I’m also wondering if the community has always been like this and I’m just now discovering my own discomfort with it.

All these conversations are so performative that I feel weird sharing my work or thoughts on Twitter or Instagram or anywhere on the Big Web. I keep posting short missives from here and I always end up deleting them when I find my attempt at earnestness bundled between hundreds of snarky comments or end of the world tweets.

Sometimes I find myself writing in this way too though. I find that because I’m spending so much time in those places I’m talking down instead of talking up.