Sometimes I post a rant-like blog post that includes the statement “you know who you are“. Sometimes it’s an “I told you so” rant (someone didn’t listen, and is suffering as a consequence). Sometimes it’s a pity rant (someone doesn’t seem to be listening, and is heading for trouble, and I can’t help any more). Sometimes it’s just a cowardly or “politically-correct” rant (I can’t say to their face that they are screwing up, for various reasons, but hope maybe they will see themselves before it is too late). Anyway I include “you know who you are” but I have decided that is incorrect. They don’t know who they are.
I get more emails than comments these days. And lately I get emails form people asking “Hey John, was that post about me?” I got three of those this week alone, and I didn’t even publish any “you know who you are” posts this week. And go figure, none of those people had anything to do with the blog posts they worried about.
Now I can’t say that the people I was thinking of when I wrote those posts didn’t see themselves, so I can’t be certain that they don’t know who they are, but I think I will try and stop the “you know who you are” posts. As for those who thought they saw themselves in my posts, don’t worry. It’s healthy for you to see yourselves in there. I am pleased you wrote to me and asked, because it shows you have the constitution for competition; you’re not afraid to be called wrong, and not too timid to find out why that might have happened. Good for you. There are a few things I carry around in my head very day as a competitive webmaster, including Andrew Grove’s statement “only the paranoid survive“.
I think tin foil hats can be healthy if you pursue understanding of the fears that caused you to don the foil in the first place. You may never take them off, but you won’t be crazy for wearing them.