Luckily, one of the first posts to show up in my aggregator today was one titled Your Passion Underwhelms Me, by Dare Obasanjo. Dare responds to a post by Mini-Microsoft on the recent Vista slippage. In particular, he’s responding to Mini’s exultation of the passion of Microsoft employees:
And this partly explains the passion of the comments you will read on this post at Mini-Microsoft.
Skewering the Microsoft leadership. Calling for heads to roll. Frustration. Disgust. Dark humor. Cynicism. Optimism. Pessimism. Rage. Love. Hate.
Another reason — big reason — why the Microsoft commenters are so passionate: They give a damn. Whatever else you may think about their comments, their Give-A-Damn meter is registering in the Green. Sure, it may seem like I’ve got it ass backwards and they’re pegged out in the dreaded Red zone.
Rather than respond directly to Mini’s passionate embrace of the passionate Microsoft employee, Dare points to an must-read post by Rory Blyth: Ten Minutes of Sincerity – Enthusiasthma. What is Enthusiasthma and why is it bad? According to Rory:
Again, like communication, passion is a good thing. It’s good to talk. It’s good to be excited.
But, it’s gotten to the point that the passion has become a sort of disease. I call it “Enthusiasthma” (if you haven’t figured it out yet, that’s a combination of the words “enthusiasm” and “asthma”). People act so excited about things that they can hardly breathe. And they live their lives this way. They show up for meetings out of breath, and present on topics with their voices notched up a whole octave. You can really hear the passion.
Except that you can’t, really.
This notion of constantly being excited is exhausting. It’s not healthy. It isn’t normal. It’s downright stupid and counter-productive.
Rory’s writing is triggered by the recent Microsoft discussion, but what he’s describing is pandemic — it’s scarier than bird flu. It’s this notion that one has to be continuously up, brimming with enthusiasm, embracing new and newer, embuing our speech–written or verbal–with a chain of exclamation points, sticking up like barbed wire at a Gulag. As if by sheer will, by passion we will beat life until it submits to our will, dammit.
What happens instead is we’ll die young, but not so young that we won’t bore most folks around us, first.
More than that, though, is that I come away feeling let down when other people don’t rush to passionately embrace what I passionately embrace. It’s the same feeling you get when you’ve eaten a piece of very surgary cake, and have managed to bounce around the walls for a time, but now the sugar’s out of your blood and you have a headache, and you’re tired and you just want to sit and drink a cup of tea. The primary difference between the two is that you don’t annoy other people when you eat cake.