I have found that once you meet people, it becomes much harder to write about them. My blog has probably gotten more diplomatic in the last ten years as a result of my having met pretty much everyone on Wall Street. I’m not saying that’s good or it’s bad, it’s just what it is.
Professor Scott Galloway does a weekly podcast and blog about the intersection between tech, media and the markets. I can totally relate to what he’s saying here about keeping his distance in order to do what he does.
I write about tech executives, and (no joke) refuse to meet with them. Mostly because I’m an introvert and don’t enjoy meeting new people. But also because intimacy is a function of contact. Often when I meet someone, I like them as a person, feel empathy for them, and find it harder to be objective about their actions. I was recently invited to an “intimate” dinner with the CEO of Uber orchestrated by his PR team, who were looking to spread Vaseline over the lens of the exploitation that Uber levies daily on its 4 million “driver partners.” As Gladwell writes, the people who did not meet Hitler got him right.
I meet people at events and in the greenrooms of TV studios and conferences. I anticipate meeting many more. The worst feeling imaginable is having written something about their company or their product and then having to sit there in a conversation – and you discover that you actually like the person. These days, you’ll see me writing more about the problems with incentive systems and less about the flaws of the individual people caught up in them. Maybe that’s a defense mechanism to keep me from having uncomfortable encounters in the real world, off the internet. I’ll own it.