The End of Fail

FAIL is over. Fail is dead. Because it marks a lack of human empathy, and signifies an absence of intellectual curiosity, it is an unacceptable response to creative efforts in our culture. “Fail!” is the cry of someone who doesn’t create, doesn’t ship, doesn’t launch, who doesn’t make things. And because these people don’t make things, they don’t understand the context of those who do. They can’t understand that nobody is more self-critical or more aware of the shortcomings of a creation than the person or people who made it.

When someone says “FAIL”, what they’re really saying is, “I’m failing to understand a creative person’s constraints.”

Of course, I’m not the first to point out that “Fail” sucks. Andy Baio articulated the case quite well, and I even touched on it in my Battledecks presentation a few years ago. Here’s the relevant segment:

But we know that people who cry “FAIL!” are assholes — so why do we have to deem their petulant cry completely unacceptable? It’s because of the Law of Fail:

Once a web community has decided to dislike a person, topic, or idea, the conversation will shift from criticizing the idea to become a competition about who can be most scathing in their condemnation.

It is in this way that the obnoxious jerks who offer an unthinking, uncritical belch in response to others’ efforts kick off an even worse mob-minded pile on. And what I want to make clear is those who begin these conversations are, it must be said, the true failures. They choose a reflexive shorthand instead of a reasoned critique, and they bring out the worst in a community. I care deeply about people being creative on the web, and I care almost as much about people having thoughtful and productive conversations on the web.

So, fail is dead. I won’t accept it in dialogue from those I communicate with, I won’t permit those I’m connected to on social networks to use it around me, and no, you’re not the first to think you’re clever enough to use it as a comment here. If you have the urge to say it and you’re a good person, then go do something creative instead. If you have the urge to say “Fail” and you haven’t done anything? Well, then your statement speaks for itself.