In 2010 Phil Plait gave his now famous "Don't be a dick" speech at The Amazing Meeting. I thought it was silly, and that people should not need to calm down about matters that were important to them, matters of fact and reason and fairness. But since that time I have realised Plait's wisdom. "Don't be a dick" is good advice, for many reasons:
1. Being a dick is tiring. It really is. Emotional reactions can run out of steam and it can take a lot of effort to maintain the full dick persona.
2. Most people aren't very good at being a dick. Being snarky and satirical can sometimes be effective but only if done really well. When not done well you will come across simply as dickishly mean and spiteful.
3. Not being a dick is a good debating tactic, gaining you support, especially if your opponent is definitely being dickish.
4. Not being dick can actually unsettle an opponent, particularly if they have usually had to deal with dicks. It gives you an advantage.
5. Not being a dick leads to calmer thinking, allowing you to respond more thoughtfully and effectively in discussions and debates.
6. You are going to be wrong about something - it happens to everyone. If you are wrong while being a dick you will be thought of as having been an ass. Better to be wrong while not being a dick, because it only takes a few words to correct yourself in a way that others will think better of you for changing your mind.
7. Being a dick is unimaginative - it limits how you can approach an issue, and can paint you into a corner.
8. Being a dick isn't always easy. You may think you are being a dick but no-one may actually notice. That's hugely embarrassing.
9. You will feel better about yourself. You really won't want to look back at dickish you in a few years time. You don't want to fill your life with awkward memories.
10. The "don't be a dick" meme is supported by Wil Wheaton. You want to be like Wil Wheaton, don't you?
Unless you are sure you are the next Oscar Wilde or Dorothy Parker, just don't be a dick - even if you like the idea, leave it to the few who are good at it.