Why It’s Good To Be The Asshole

by · June 23, 20144 comments

Perhaps it’s that the news of the day bothers me more now since I have to explain a lot of it to the inquiring minds of my children. Maybe I’m getting more cranky in my old(er) age. Or it could be that I just like a good fight. Whatever the reason, I seem to have gotten into more debates and discussions about social issues and politics lately on my social networks.

Whether its gun control (I’m for it), prejudice (I’m against it) or government interference (generally against that, too, even though it somewhat contradicts the first entry in this list), it seems I’ve been involved in a few fights of late. I am now even blocked on Facebook by a family member because I was throwing snarky comments in a few of her posts. Seems she uses her personal account like a business account and didn’t find me funny since potential clients could see the comments.

Too bad she didn’t have a relative who could help her figure that mechanism out a little better. Heh.

Generally, I don’t pay much attention to people who get aggravated with my opinions and such. Social media has been, is and will always be 100 percent optional and opt-in. If you don’t care for someone’s content or perspective, you can unfollow. And despite what your instincts tell you, doing so is not bad, wrong or negative.

Keep in mind that I don’t typically espouse my opinions as if I’m right and everyone else is wrong. I have some decorum and tact about how I voice things. In fact, I am attracted to intelligent discourse on any subject, am happy to admit when I’m wrong and am generally fair and polite.

But I still get under people’s skin sometimes.

Keeping an asshole or two around helps you stay grounded, centered and probably sane.

The secret to being comfortable with that is knowing without the occasional asshole in the room, nothing pushes the thinking. Eli Pariser’s outstanding book The Filter Bubble warns what will happen if we carve out homogenous networks. To summarize: If you surround yourself with like-minded people and only like-minded people, you never learn or grow. You also become more isolated and fearful of that which isn’t like you.

Keeping an asshole or two around helps you stay grounded, centered and probably sane.

Certainly, my relative can read me the riot act about how she shouldn’t have to ask a relative to respect her business and the clientele who might see my comments, even if she’s using her personal profile inappropriately. And sure, there are moments when I let my arrogance about a certain issue get the best of me and overstep my bounds. (I almost always apologize when that happens.) But more often than not, I’ll proudly wear the badge of Asshole in the Room.

With it, someone is pushing the thinking. Someone is denying the same old, same old. And there is inherent value there.

In the words of Gary Larson, “Wait! Wait! Listen to me! … We don’t HAVE to be just sheep.”

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is the founder and chief instigator for Social Media Explorer's blog. He is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for CafePress, one of the world's largest online retailers. His opinions are his, not necessarily theirs. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • Erin McMahon

    I also read recently that grouchy people are more productive in the workplace! Can’t find the source I saw, but here’s a substitute: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2663805/Haters-gonna-hate-makes-better-job-Grumpy-negative-people-efficient-happy-colleagues.html

  • http://jameshalloran.net/ James R. Halloran

    “If you surround yourself with like-minded people and only like-minded people, you never learn or grow. You also become more isolated and fearful of that which isn’t like you.”

    Bam! End of story there. Love this thought (and why I take pride in being an a**hole, too).

  • Nichole_Kelly

    Fantastic post Jason. I totally agree that someone has to play devil’s advocate to push the thinking. Jason Spooner does a great job of this on our team. We’ve started highlighting these as risk assessments in conversation so we don’t totally sound like nay-sayers all the time. The beauty of a risk assessment is that it is neither true nor false. You can choose to accept the assessment or tell the person you will not be accepting future assessments on the subject. For us, this is super important on client work. First, we always want to understand risks, but we also want to understand what we could be missing. Without a strong devil’s advocate in the conversation that simply wouldn’t be possible.

  • Emeric

    Great post! I think we should create the job of CAO (chief asshole officer) in every company to make sure there’s at least one person who feel authorized to shake the commonly accepted corporate wisdom ;-)