Following on from my earlier post about a couple of things to consider when hiring, this tweet by Paul Graham touches again on the employment relationship. Graham is the founder of Y Combinator but crucially the author of some of the best long-form essays you’ll find online about all manner of things.
Imagine the reaction on Twitter if Darwin published the Origin of Species today. It was bad enough for him at the time, but imagine what it would be like now. If he had an employer, there's a significant chance he'd be fired.
— Paul Graham (@paulg) November 30, 2018
Whilst our modern communication platforms have empowered us, they have also created a great deal of what I think of as brittleness. Should we choose to flick the power switch, each and every one of us today has access to a megaphone that can reach across the world for free. Yet if you make a statement that is out of the familiar or accepted and you can expect to be scythed down online. What’s more, you may be held accountable for your statement or belief for many years to come.
I’m a strong advocate of the school of strong opinions, weakly held. You should try to think hard enough to have beliefs that you stand up for – yet never be too fixated to refuse to change them in the face of contrary evidence. Beating down innovative, wacky or counter-intuitive thought seems to be a road that’s fraught with dangers for the rate of our collective progress as a species.
There’s a risk of some of our most wacky ideas as a culture being suppressed – not by regulation but by a digital mob attack arranged via social media.
Perhaps we need to hope that the next Darwin isn’t using social media today.