When it comes to technology, my sister is a pessimist at heart. Her gut reaction when she hears about a new technology is generally negative. She has a flip, pay as you go phone. She has no social media accounts and takes ~1 month to respond to my emails (in her defense, she sends great emails!)
This is in stark contrast to me. I am cautious about how I use technology, but in general, I love it. When I hear about a new technology my default reaction is excitement. After I graduate from college I'm moving to San Francisco, the mecca of tech in the United States if not the world. Tech entrepreneurs like Elon Musk and Naval Ravikant are my heroes.
So it is only natural that when we spend time together I sometimes feel attacked or hurt by her stance on technology. To me, it can feel like on an attack of my character. I am dedicating a lot of my time to thinking and working on things I believe have a net positive on the world, and my sister is trying to convince me they might have a negative impact.
But I think this is the wrong response on my part, not my sisters. When I respond this way, I'm defending tech because I feel like it is a part of my identity.
"To be honest, speak without identity" - Naval Ravikant
Pessimism is not an attack. Technology is not my identity. If what I care about is being kind and making the world a better place, I should be very open to different perspectives on the best way to do that. When we are surrounded by people with boundless optimism I think hearing the other side of the coin can be extraordinarily valuable. My beliefs haven't changed all that much. I still think any technology can be used for good or evil, but the positive will generally outweigh the negative. But my conversations with my sister have reminded me of the importance to ask "why?". Too often entrepreneurs ask "can we?" rather than "should we?".
This article on blockchain pessimism should be required reading for anyone opening up a Coinbase account. Regardless of your stance on the recent blockchain hype, the article is well written and forces us to be honest with the state of the ecosystem. The moment we believe the markets can go nowhere but up is typically when they fall.
Pessimism makes us reexamine our assumptions, and that will always be valuable. Despite my instincts to rebel against it, it's super important. I'm still trying to embrace it.