You’d Better Be Good, For Goodness Sake!

The U.S., and many other places in the world, celebrate the Christmas season during the month of December in a HUGE way. Whether you believe in the religious implication or not is irrelevant to the celebrations happening. It is a time of gift giving, sharing memories, getting families together, and being cheerful. But unfortunately these awesome things can lead to stress, and often what is being shared is not very good.

In a holiday song “Santa Claus is coming to town”, the song contains a list of things you should do as a child in order to receive presents from Old Saint Nick. The 3rd and 5th verse both contain the words: “He knows if you’ve been good or bad, so you’d better be good for goodness sake.”

“He knows if you’ve been good or bad, so you’d better be good for goodness sake.”

With this in mind, let’s take a peek at one way we can be good…for the sake of being good. Despite obvious challenges we experience in a modern society. Because being good is a good thing to do, after all.

Why are we bad?

In tech circles people tend to spend more time with tech related “things” and communication is typically remote. (Twitter, Skype, IRC, Facebook, Github, etc.) Therefore it’s too easy to mentally associate somebody with a piece of code, technology, library, or framework. Thus creating an imprint that doesn’t contain a face, personality, or a living and breathing human being with “feels”. In short, we dehumanize humans through association.

No, you are not a bad person for doing this, it is…human.

There is a saying that “Developers are lazy”, but in reality it’s actually their brain. A more proper response would be, “Brains are lazy.” Our brains constantly create shortcuts in how it associates things. By “Association” our brains automatically create internal links in an attempt to make future recognition and recollection easier. The process of how our brains create these shortcuts is nothing new. In fact these have been observed, and written about, since the days of Aristotle and Plato.

Hurting Feelings and Bullying

As a result of how our brains create these shortcuts, it often leads to poor communication leaving much to be desired. I know I’ve been guilty of responding to a question very brash, or I’ve questioned somebody’s methods in a very rough manner. Though I did not intend to be offensive, the communication tone and words I used were not “nice”. In fact my words were very harsh and could even be interpreted as bullying. While the gains achieved by expedience may seem acceptable in the short-term, eventually reality does catch up.

Again, not very good. No presents for me.

Seriously though, people lose jobs, friends, communities, and families over poor communication with others. People get into fights over it, and many other more severe things can happen because of it. This is quite serious.

Get Control

The realization of what I’ve shared above has led me on a journey over the past decade. That’s right. It is a never ending battle, and I struggle with it daily. You should too.

We humans are an intelligent species, and as such we have the mental capacity to change our bad ways. (Unless you are truly bad, then you may get coal as a present from Santa Claus this year.) Please pay close attention to how you are communicating with others. Pause prior to hitting “send” and read what you wrote. Ask yourself, “Is this constructive? Will it halt forward progress, or will it allow those reading it to think of better ideas?”

“…read what you wrote. Ask yourself, “Is this constructive?…”

By doing this I often rewrite much of my emails, and in the process calmed myself down from ranting to being productive. No, I’m not perfect. Sometimes I still make mistakes. But many of my communications are of a higher quality than in the past.


Please take this to heart, and don’t let the hectic holiday season block you from being good. Happy Holidays!