“DAVID HEINEMEIER HANSHOLE”
The Humblifier doesn’t take requests.
The Humblifier also doesn’t do well with reverse psychology.
So we’re in a bind with David Hansson, a legendary small fry in startup-land who quite rightly reveled in my comments on Biz Stone’s staggeringly vainglorious post earlier this week — but who also sees his own lack of humility as “funny ha-ha,” rather than the cavernous character flaw it is:
I’m not going to spend much time on David’s insistence on referring to himself globally as “DHH” — rather than fucking “David,” as any other grown man would — other than to say that such a persistent effort to self-brand offers a window unto the blackened, wounded soul within. Many individuals have indeed come to be known by an initialism, but 95% of these are presidents or terrorists, and 100% of these have come about from the popular press — not force of will. (Other instances of self-nicknaming are from celebrities so vapid and lost their ego is the product.)
David’s carbon-copied “self-evator pitch” precedes him everywhere on the web, with only character-count limits standing in the way of a perfectly calibrated brand. But it’s his homepage that looms as the real Hans-hole of Glory. (Sadly for his marketing consistency, the homepage is not dhh.com, although I’m sure many renminbi have been offered in multiple attempts to wrest the domain away from its Chinese squatters.)
Please immerse yourself in http://david.heinemeierhansson.com/ for a few mom — er, minutes.
For someone so ostensibly triumphant in life — “best-selling author” (as David notes in all of his bio snippets); millionaire enough times over to warrant unsolicited blogging about his wealth and how, naturally, it hasn’t changed him; and public speaker whose lecture topics include the lofty how “to have a successful startup (and life)” — David’s resume page is exhaustively curated. It’s chock-full of hyperlinks, subheadings, bespoke images… all in service of so…much…text… so many gratuitous answers to unasked questions. The real question on every unlucky visitor’s mind remains unaddressed: “Why is this guy trying so hard?”
It’s a ridiculously fucking long bio page, is what I’m saying.
Furthermore, as one whose notoriety online comes largely from eschewing typical Silicon Valley behavior, David’s enumerated braggadocio is a near-perfect example of Valley egomania. I don’t care how amazing you think you are: no one asked, no one cares, and your Internet friends hate you. Shut the fuck up.
My favorite part is this gift, left at the very end of our biographical nightmare:
If I had a class of Narcissism 101 students spend a semester coming up with the Number One Question No One Has Ever Had, that question would be:
In which location(s), David Hansson, do you and your family spend your time? Please be complete, and remember: the more exotic, the better.
We love you,
Were I a confident, gratified, independent… best-selling, millionaire public speaker… with a cheeky wife, auto-racing predilection, a passion for generic landscape photography, and undersized biceps (and, as far as you know, I am all those things, because I haven’t enumerated each in an immaculately hyperlinked rundown of everything that makes me special), my home page… would not exist. I’d have no need to present my own version of me, because I don’t need to give a shit what you think and I’m comfortable in my own self-actualized skin.
If I were forced — say, by a North Korean dictator, or, frankly, any Korean dictator — to build a resume homepage, my resultant output (hand-coded in meticulous GPML, Glorious Pyongyang Markup Language) would consist of the following:
“I am a programmer and startup guy, occasional writer, and many other things that don’t need to be inventoried for you, random Internet visitor, because I don’t give a shit what you think.”
Vanity is Not Funny
I want to go back to the tweet that started this all and ruined my evening.
The Humblifier exists to educate — not to entertain. What guides this (indisputable) public service is the current reality that is our runaway cultural arrogance. To laugh at vanity is to assume its ubiquity.
I’m sorry, Dave. I’m afraid I can’t do that.
The road to Hell isn’t paved with good intentions; it’s paved with all your Facebook posts crowing about your fucking good intentions. Humility may be a lost art, but it’s still there, somewhere — a signal versus the noise.
Oh! How funny is this?! Signal v. Noise is the award-winning blog run by Basecamp (formerly 37Signals), founded by David Heinemeier Hansson. I encourage you to read all about it at David’s home page, follow David on Twitter, check out David’s photography on Instagram, read about how he’s a millionaire on Medium, or catch up with David directly next time you’re in Malibu or Marbella.