Geek As Citizen: Boost The Signal

Direction Sign

“Ho ho ho. Isn’t it nice we hate the same things?”

Principal Skinner, “Principal Charming” Simpsons episode 7-15

Complaining about things is a popular past-time for people. We complain about movies, about music, about comics, about television, about politics. Complaining is practically a cause for some people – in fact, a few of them made it into a career, disguising it as punditry or critique.

We geeks do like to complain. We’re passionate about what we love, do, read, speak on, and so on. That, in turn, means we may be critical of things for the very reasons of that passion. The problem is complaining doesn’t address what we’re critical of.

Complaining doesn’t solve things. Saying how bad a cold is doesn’t make it go away, expressing annoyance about a tacky shirt doesn’t make it change its color, and complaining about a bad movie means it’s still a pile of dreck. Complaining at its best warns people off of something – and possibly warns them off of you as you’re a jerk because you won’t shut up.

Too much complaining, even for legitimate reasons can backfire. This is what I’ve head referred to as the “bigger a-hole” theory – talking all the time how bad something makes you look bad. If you look bad, even your legitimate complaints are disregarded because you’re the bigger a-hole and people assume your legitimate concerns originate from your own being a jerk.

Sometimes the messenger is the message, like it or not.

Now I’m all for complaining, or at least tolerant of it (I do it myself), but when it comes down to it, if we want better movies, technology, comics, and anything else, we’ve got to do something else. Complaining solves little.

So when I asked some of the Crossroads Alpha gang what we could do different, the best action became obvious.

Want something good? Boost The Signal.

Boost The Signal (Insert “Can’t Stop The Signal Joke” Yourself)

Complaining as noted does little – at best it warns and at worse it annoys. Complaining rarely results in better works, better tech, and better ideas.

But what we can do is boost people’s awareness of the good things out there, of the wonderful things we find, of the things people should say attention to.

People have a choice in how they spend their time, their money, and so on. When we make them aware of good things, from a friend’s recommendation to writing a review of something great for a major website, we’re making people aware.  When they’re aware, they are more likely to focus on the things we’re promoting.

In short, let’s spend less time complaining and more time making people aware of the good things so they choose them, or helping out those promoting the good things. Those good things are out there, but often obscure, unknown, disregarded, not understood. We can make people aware, we can do our part to get them out there – we Boost The Signal

Its also better than criticism. Criticism as noted can backfire, and I’d also say criticism is something we’re awful numb too. It pours out of TV and talk radio and the like all the time, and most people aren’t good at it.

But how do we Boost the Signal? I’m glad you asked, because over the days to come I’m going to be summing up ideas I found – and wanting to hear about your own.


– Steven Savage

Steven Savage is a Geek 2.0 writer, speaker, blogger, and job coach.  He blogs on careers at, publishes books on career and culture at, and does a site of creative tools at He can be reached at