Yesterday one of my designers forwarded a link to a kerning exercise–you know, the kind of thing that industry insiders love but that no one else “gets.” As someone whose feet are firmly planted on either side of the right brain/left brain divider, I always love the opportunity to prove myself as worthy among my right-brained graphics people. Imagine my consternation when I clicked on the link and promptly received the following error message.

Sorry, your browser doesn’t support KernType

I’m really sorry, I’ve made every effort possible to make this game run everywhere, but your browser does not support SVG, a standards based vector format that is supported by all major vendors.

You are probably running Android on a Mobile phone, or an old version of Internet Explorer. I won’t suggest you to upgrade, because this is often not your own choice. I hope it’s not too much to ask to borrow a computer with a modern browser.

Although my first reaction was fairly benign, a second pass left me shaking my head in disbelief. The kerning exercise forgotten, I felt insulted. Regardless of whether I’m running an old browser (I’m not) or trying to access the site on a mobile device (I’m not), as a potential constituent I deserve some respect in this interaction. The author’s seeming politeness does little to mask his disdain for users who either choose not to or don’t have the means to subscribe to his choice of technology.

Maybe this guy doesn’t care whether his message turns people off. In fact, maybe it’s his way of separating those he defines as wheat from the chaff. Only true believers and those of like mind will “get it”–if you don’t buy into his technology choice, he doesn’t want you. Fair enough. However, in the event that he does want a broader constituency, that he wants to convert some of the masses rather than simply selecting the anointed, I have the following message for him.

Dear Mr. Kerning guru:

A polite delivery does not erase the sharp edge from your tone. When you imply that I’m a dinosaur, old-fashioned and outdated, I have no desire to interact with you or your application. If that’s what you want, you’ve accomplished your mission. If not, I suggest you rethink your approach. Words do, in fact, matter.

Thanks for listening,

A humble communicator.