The reason I’d rather roll my eyes and make silly jokes about Paul Graham it is because it’s hard to truly accept what has become of someone I used to admire. Because it hurts. It hurts to see someone you used to respect cementing his place on what looks like the wrong side of history.
But at the same time, irony isn’t a real solution, either. I tried it and all I got was a bunch of quote-tweets with broken links. Whom does it serve except myself and the people who already think negatively of him? If I want to do more than just cope — if I want the possibility of actually changing anything— I have to rise above it.
So this is my sincere attempt at trying to engage without hiding behind the veneer of irony. Without malice. Without intellectual dishonesty. Just the quiet hope of someone who is disappointed by what he’s become and thinks he could do better.
When I was younger, just getting started as a software developer, Paul Graham was someone I genuinely looked up to, and I share a lot of the same feelings with Wendy here. It’s sad to see someone I once aspired to be like turn out to be such an asshat.
I don’t think Paul Graham’s really changed all that much though—there’s a reason HN commenters tend to be susceptible to libertarian, meritocratic fantasies—the truth of the matter is that my personal politics have changed significantly since the time when I admired pg. Reading his essays now, what once struck me as wonderfully clear, insightful thinking seems painfully naive and downright harmful.
Kill your heroes and all that.