Like code for “I give a shit”

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Ryan Skinner

17. 05. 2013 | 4 min read

Like code for “I give a shit”

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Online no one can tell if you sweep the shop floor.

When you walk into a store anywhere in the world, you can usually tell immediately if they give a shit.

  • If it smells like either garbage or cleaning solvent, they probably don’t give a shit.
  • If the stuff on the shelves is labeled haphazardly, they probably don’t give a shit.
  • If the staff look at you like “yeah, I work here” or they studiously don’t look at you at all, they probably don’t give a shit.
  • If they go empty for anything in the place, they probably don’t give a shit.
  • If you find yourself wondering whether they give a shit, they probably don’t give a shit.

When you walk into a place where they give a shit, you see the opposite.
It smells nice, because if it didn’t someone wouldn’t put up with that shit. Staff smile, ask if they can help and don’t give up until you get what you want.
They give a shit.

It’s a minor miracle when people give a shit. Most jobs, there’s just no good reason. You’re either explicitly talked down to by managers. Or implicitly infantilized by wanky corporate diktat.

In almost every instance where people don’t give a shit, there’s just no goddamn reason to give a shit. And it shows for the customer, every time.

Web-based jobs kind of change the dynamic. In two big ways.

First of all, the web’s freed a hell of a lot of people from the chains of corporate wankiness. Either people skip right out and start a new online business, or they start up little projects online that are hidden in plain view. They tweet. Share. Discuss stuff online. Shit like that.

In other words, the web’s done away with one of the biggest obstacles to giving a shit: The handcuffs are gone. When people are freer to do what they want at work, they give a shit. And they do good shit. Which is pretty wild when it comes to the business world.

Second of all, it’s not as easy to see when people give a shit online. You can tell, but it’s more subtle. When a shop stinks, it stinks. And you know they don’t give a shit.

A website doesn’t physically stink. A person doesn’t stare at you blankly there (if you discount the kinds of crap stock photos many sites use). On a website, you can’t exactly feel it in your guts that people give a shit, or don’t.

Storefronts get old. Websites are always as shiny as they day they were born. They age in a different way, but the site you stopped updating three years ago looks just like it did…three years ago. It’s not like there’s dust on it.

Online it’s harder to tell if someone gives a shit. Which is a problem.

I think we want to buy from people who give a shit.

I mean, not all the time.

I don’t care if the people who make my bog-roll give a shit. The company that makes my bog-roll could kneecap a million pandas while clearcutting a rain forest to harvest pulp and I wouldn’t give a shit. Well, a little.

For most things, though, particularly important things, I really, really like to buy stuff from someone who gives a shit. It makes me feel better.

I look for signs when I’m buying stuff online. Signs that the people behind it give a shit. Reviews and shit like that.

You know what really gets me all super excited? Giddy as a schoolgirl, actually? When someone gets so excited about what they’re doing that they can’t stop talking about how to do it better. And sharing what they find out. Like, in a blog.

Maybe I’m alone in loving that, but I don’t think so.

The closest thing to virtue is the pursuit of virtue. We love that shit. I might even choose someone less virtuous if I was convinced they were sincerely determined to get better in a hurry. Less hassle. More value.

That’s what marketing looks like when it’s good, if you ask me. Like someone who really gives a shit. Someone who’s pursuing virtue.

I know people can show they care online in other ways.
Good UX. A modern, clean and attractive design. Even a site that loads fast.

But when you open up and tell me about your efforts and struggles to be great, when you go out of your way to help me out, when you describe the challenges you see from your perspective (so I can better navigate them), I can feel it: you give a shit.

Online no one can tell if you sweep the shop floor.
But it shows in other ways.
I want to love you; show me you give a shit.

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