Monday, March 26, 2007

The Kathy Sierra Situation

I really don't know what to say about this, but I know what I feel.

Sorrow. Anger. Confusion.

For the last two years, I've missed Kathy Sierra's talks at SXSWi. I know little about what she does. And I've never interacted with her.

Yet I read her narrative of recent events with growing concern and disgust. Late last week, the Justice Department launched a campaign to warn young women of the dangers of being too open online. Not that long ago, the National Crime Prevention Council began an initiative to fight cyberbullying.

It's not just children we need to worry about.

It's ourselves.

I'm a big believer in the value and power of being present online. I appreciate other people's presence. I like to get presents. But I cannot fathom the kind of thinking that goes into these attacks on Sierra, Tara Hunt (whom I emailed for the first time on another matter entirely today), Hugh MacLeod, and others. I don't understand how people like Chris Locke, Frank Paynter, and Jeneane Sessum can be involved, however remotely.

But I do know this. Whomever posted such misguided, unwise, and vicious attacks will be outed. The online community has that in its power. The perpetrator will hopefully face the full measure of the law. And they should be shunned.

Because such behavior is akin to committing reputational suicide. As far as I'm concerned, that person's ideas and opinions are dead to me. I have no respect whatsoever for them or their work, regardless of who they are or what they've done.

To paraphrase Media Diet's tagline, you are what you write. You are your own words. You own them. Stand behind them.

To do otherwise is the utmost in cowardice and disrespect for everyone online.

You know who you are. Step up.

1 comment:

Lynne d Johnson said...

Thanks for this post Heath. I often worry about how much of myself I'm putting online. My MySpace is private. I have gone back-and-forth with making my Twitter private. Though I've been in online groups and a blogger for many years, I've only once received any real attack. And it was a bully, pure and simple. Nothing for me to be afraid of. It's interesting though, a few years ago I wrote a piece titled: "Imagining a Gender Neutral Black Male/Female Relationship," and at that point I felt there was more promise on the Web than offline. But now I'm not so sure.