While it is true that all change happens bit-by-bit, the world needs big ideas. We need people working to solve large and difficult questions on things like climate change, political corruption, educational reform and more.
The Go community needs big ideas as well. It needs people striving to solve our communities issues and it needs people doing the work, day-by-day, to make those changes a reality.
I call those change makers with the big ideas “dreamers.” These dreamers are seeking to change things like the underrepresentation of women, people of color, and rural players in Baduk. Dreamers are investing their personal finances in ordering and storing large shipments of Weiqi supplies so that the rest of us can affordably purchase them when we are ready. Dreamers are pouring their life's energy into developing tools to help local organizers to help themselves energize their communities.
That last example is the work I'm trying to do with BadukClub. I am a dreamer and I spend every day striving to help, grow, and empower the worldwide Go community.
So you're a dreamer with a great idea and you’re pumped. It’s new, it’s different, possibly even ground-breaking. It’s such a radical idea that you know people will take some convincing. But deep inside you know it’s a great idea.
And, as expected, when you present the idea, there are some naysayers. Some push-back. But that isn't always a bad thing! Those people could very well be skeptics with valid concerns and feedback. And lucky for me, in the Go community there are plenty of skeptics.
According to the Oxford Dictionary a skeptic is “a person inclined to question or doubt all accepted opinions.” People who value intellectual pursuits such as Go are commonly skeptics because skepticism is often just critical thinking applied in the real world.
But dreamers should be careful because there is another breed of naysayer out there; Cynics. According to the Oxford Dictionary a skeptic is “a person who believes that people are motivated purely by self-interest rather than acting for honorable reasons.”
I like that definition, but the heart of the issue can be seen from the definition used at the Free Dictionary: a cynic is “a person whose outlook is scornfully and often habitually negative.”
The difference is important
Skeptics look for holes in your idea because they want to help you plug those holes. Cynics look for holes so they can make them bigger and sink your idea.
Skeptics ask questions to try to make your idea better. Cynics ask questions to try to make you look stupid or incompetent.
Skeptics say, “I’m not sure if you have enough data to support that… lets do some digging and figure it out.” Cynics say, “You don’t have enough data to support that. You’ll have to prove to me that you’re right.” (And you never can.)
Skeptics have the “meeting after the meeting” to find ways to get past their doubts so they can jump onboard. Cynics have the “meeting after the meeting” to tear down the idea so no one is onboard.
From the founder of Hubspot Dharmesh Shah's article on LinkedIn
Working on the AGA board I spend a lot of my time heatedly debating policy issues. But I am happy to say that these people are skeptics. They want to be convinced, to see evidence, and when that happens, they move forward.
I also hear from of cynics when I share my map, wheretoplaygo.com, with people.
As an example, one potential user told me that they didn't want to add their meetup to the map over concerns of data security. So I shared with him how we use a BAS (backend as a service) to make sure that novice code isn't protecting people's data.
Next he took up issue with our authentication process. So I shared with him information on our third-party authentication provider as well as all the best-in-class security measures they use to protect user accounts.
At this point, you may not be surprised to hear that he didn't sign up. He was just there to try and tear me down. To be clear, BadukClub doesn't even collect that much data to begin with and the information we do collect is stuff like “when their club meets” which I assume people want public anyway.
Don't feed the trolls
So it's clear to me that this person was a cynic. They don't believe that I might actually just be creating a website to help make the world a better place.
Cynics are toxic. At a fundamental level they don’t believe in goodness. Cynics don’t believe in the capability of other people to overcome, to rise up, and to achieve. They don’t believe in new ideas because, at heart, they don’t believe in people.
So what should I do? “Shun the non-believers,” says Seth Godin and I agree. I want to serve those who align with my mission to make the world a better place. So if you are that kind of person, let's work together. And if people are skeptical, let's invite them in so we can all learn and grow together. If you are a cynic, I'm sorry, but you're not welcome here.