A Word of Welcome

I’m delighted (but seriously) to say that RollingAlpha.com has picked up a number of new readers over the last week. And nothing really gets me going like watching the subscriber count creep up in leaps and bounds.

So – welcome. Please feel free to comment and respond and forward on anything you find interesting. And I hope that, if you’re up to it, you might have a look back at some of the older stuff. The post count is now well over 700, so if you’re looking for a place to start, I can think of two:

  1. The popular posts – you can find them listed in “The Top 20 Most Popular Posts
  2. The posts I was most pleased with – listed in “A Top Twenty of My Favourite 2013 Posts

Finally, you should know that Friday’s are usually devoted to the “Office Politics” series of posts – which is less heavy on the finance, and more about work and life balance and pitfalls. So here goes…


Unless you live in a vacuum (and you can hardly live in a vacuum if you’re reading this), you’ll know that the media world has been a-swell with Robin Williams – may he rest in peace. Tributes, defences, criticisms, Apple Adverts, laments, buzzfeed lists and retrospections. In particular, there is an article from the Guardian that is flowing around in response to all the “committing suicide is selfish” critics: “Robin William’s death: a reminder that suicide and depression are not selfish“.

Of course it’s a spectacle. But much of it appears genuine.


I am appalled by some of the soapboxing.

Just to be clear, “having a Facebook account” does not suddenly mean that your opinions are valuable. If you want to have a big moral opinion – write a blog post and let the view count be an indication of its relative worth.

You need. To stop. Abusing my newsfeed.

Briefly, some Facebook guidelines:

  1. On Facebook, you are almost entirely surrounded by casual friends and acquaintances.
  2. We are not your intimates.
  3. If all those facebook friends were gathered in a room, would you stop the music and grab a microphone and try to speak over everyone to launch a tirade?
  4. You would not.
  5. Because it would be considered extraordinarily rude.
  6. When you rant and moralise on Facebook, you are abusing the unspoken social agreement that we entered into when I accepted your friendship request.
  7. We are friends on facebook because I want to see your photos and hear about your life events. Sometimes, it’s because I want to see links to what you find interesting, in case I find it interesting as well.
  8. But I don’t want to see your loud and vitriolic rants.
  9. I don’t want to hear about your personal stuff.
  10. And I certainly don’t care about your moral positions.
  11. If you want to share those – do it in a setting where I can seek it out.
  12. I want to opt in to your inner belief system.
  13. It should not be my responsibility to opt out.
  14. Get a social filter.
  15. Like a blog.

And here is why you need to be so careful about rants and moralisations:

  1. Are you familiar with the law of large numbers?
  2. It means that the larger your audience, the more likely you are to have someone that is deeply affected by what you are saying.
  3. In particular, the big stuff.
  4. You want to condone suicide as a valid option? The larger the crowd, the more likely that there is someone in that crowd that you’ll push over the edge.
  5. You want to declare that the family members of suicide victims are the really selfish ones for wanting them to stick around? In large crowds, you will be speaking to some family members who have dealt with that pain.
  6. You want to spout off about biblical passages? You have convinced no one. All you have done is sought affirmation from those that already believe with you, and further alienated those that you just condemned.

You want to have an opinion?

Allow it the space to be sought out.

Some Rules For Opinions That Are Worth Sharing

Opinions – opinions are fun. But not all of them.

In the workplace, much like on Facebook, you are surrounded by casual friends and acquaintances. I know it’s been said before, but there really are some rules about what can be shared:

1. No personal stuff.

If it’s not something for which you can buy a greeting card, then it’s too personal. No HIV test results. No declarations of love. No complaints about people.

Because, ask yourself, “Why do I want this to happen in public?”

If the answer is anything like “To make myself feel better about myself” or “To show off my gloriousness”, then you need to get a therapist.

And we are not your therapists.

2. Thought must be thoughtful.

Don’t bore us with thoughtlessness.

What does this mean?

It means that your opinion needs to be a rational viewpoint that has at least considered the other side of the coin.

Gut reactions and “because the bible tells me so” are not valid opinions. Those are prejudices.

3. Don’t be a hypocrite.

Declaring people to be “ignorant children” because they judge what they don’t understand?

That’s a little judgemental of you, don’t you think?

Thoroughly discredited yourself, you did.

Because here’s the deal: liberals that hate conservatives are just as bad. If any part of your so-called enlightened self is unwilling to tolerate certain moral positions – then you too are intolerant.

Which, frankly, is fine – because we’re all intolerant in some ways. But don’t run around all supercilious-like.

4. When in doubt, write a blog post. 

Like I said earlier – if you feel the need to voice your opinion, then voice it. And let us know where to find it.

If we’re interested, we’ll check it out.

If we’re not, then not.

And if you feel like it’s all a too much effort to balance, then just talk about the stuff that’s interesting but emotionally-neutral.

Like the mating habits of the anglerfish. Or that Japanese guy that married a pillow.

Use it, don’t use it. But if you don’t, then expect to be unfollowed.

Court of public opinion and all that.

Rolling Alpha posts opinions on finance, economics, and the corporate life in general. Follow me on Twitter @RollingAlpha, and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/rollingalpha.