The Reverse A-Hole Rule of Social Media

Published on December 15, 2022 (↻ July 1, 2023), filed under (RSS feed for all categories).

Inspired by already toxic patterns on Twitter, I drafted this months before Mr. Musk took over the platform, prompting everyone many to move to healthier platforms like Mastodon. But, not for the first time, I’m opting to publish this eventually.

If we cancel an a-hole on social media; and for one of many possible reasons we got our facts wrong; then we can guess who’s the a-hole.

There are many disagreeable viewpoints out there. There are probably many disagreeable people out there, too. But leaving aside reasons to listen to whom we disagree with, there’s a point at which our defense against disagreeable viewpoints and people becomes an offense—when it’s us who become disagreeable.

Why? For many reasons. It’s hard to know everything. It’s hard to tell when someone acted out of ignorance or out of intent. It’s hard to be perfect. Therefore, when we ask others to know everything and constantly act to our constant liking, are we the good force we deem ourselves to be? When we punish—cancel—, but erred in our assessment, are we being fair? Or is there a point at which we become worse, than those we judge?

At certain points swift horsemen wait. A scout appears, gives his information and within the hour, the King would [hear] it.

Figure: The King didn’t cancel. (Copyright King Features Syndicate, Inc., distr. Bulls.)

(Yes, “reverse” refers to “rule,” and not “a-hole.” Then, as previously, there are limits and exceptions. For example, if we block someone like Mr. Trump, there are ample data points suggesting we made an excellent call.)

Was this useful or interesting? Share (toot) this post, or maybe treat me to a coffee. Thanks!

About Me

Jens Oliver Meiert, on September 30, 2021.

I’m Jens (long: Jens Oliver Meiert), and I’m a frontend engineering leader and tech author/publisher. I’ve worked as a technical lead for companies like Google and as an engineering manager for companies like Miro, I’m close to W3C and WHATWG, and I write and review books for O’Reilly and Frontend Dogma.

I love trying things, not only in web development (and engineering management), but also in other areas like philosophy. Here on I share some of my views and experiences.

If you want to do me a favor, interpret charitably (I speak three languages, and they can collide), yet be critical and give feedback for me to learn and improve. Thank you!