Where is the line you do not want to cross?


I still haven’t read up on all the comments and posts about Kathy Sierra (here are Techmme links one and two from different time stamps with a lot of links to follow). This story, of course, is not just a black and white story.

It clashes additionally with Etech and Twitter, hyping it even faster. It tracks attention like a good fairy tale with a good princess and an ugly devil; as well as there are some simple followers throwing in support, there are also some more or less naive people, who go for the opposite. And some because it fetches attention – basically we have everything in the game we always have.

A ‘benefit’ of the new world?
You get called for what you do. Suddenly, personal integrety and actually standing by what you say and do, is required. It is not as easy to get away with things.

Btw: Somebody using a name and a logo / icon does not make a proof that this is a specific person.

What happened on that web site is something which does also happen when people meet. Difference? They got caught and there is a google cache of it.

I will not downplay in any way how for example Kathy or other people involved “have to feel”. The fact that I personally feel not threatened but annoyed by idiots does not mean everybody has this kind of reaction. Things which tick me off, will many times not be of *slightest* a disturbance to you.

This is not the first time something like this happened, it will sadly be not the last time. And it is always different when it happens to somebody you know or even care about.

So how to move on afterwards and MAKE something out of it?

Move on does not mean forget and go to the next scandal. Quite the opposite.

I found one quote of Don Park I really liked :

The line is not clear?
The line is formed by people standing shoulder to shoulder,
not by some airtight logic. The sign on the line reads:
We’ll be unreasonable if you cross this line.

This is how society has been build up for a very long time.
The one problem with this?
The rules have changed.

Today, when I hit send on this, this can be around the world and back in seconds. It is exposed to people I know will read this, up to people I do not know.

The net, especially with easy tools for blogging allows suddenly an openness / spread / connectivness we are not used to, nor is the society used to this. We broadcast thoughts and ideas, and suddenly we live in something like a borg-connected world where everybody hears everything. Though our communication pattern – even for most of us very advanced in using and understanding the system and technology – is build for close distance, small groups.

It connects all of us in a way which does not happen when we meet in real space – there are people you will go with in a group, and others you will just not get near. You play with people you like, and avoid people you do not like.

And the rules of forming new rules in society? Absolutly not ready for the new way.

“Rules of society”
“Rules of society” btw do not work that simply. Rules of society are the ones YOU are used to. I am not saying this to take myself out of responsibility, but making the point that “society” on this world wide scale has not developped its rules yet!

If somebody says words like cunt and bitch, test yourself if you just got the feeling of wanting to vomit because somebody who looks intelligent from her writing “uses such words”.

They are basically just words for me. I do have to *learn* the degree of rejection you put into that. There are German equivilents I would not use in normal daylife, nor really tolerate someone using them – but if you would speak German as a second language, they would be just words for you too.

Why do I go to these example? Why does Chris Pirillo say it is not just that, and tells about his bullying experiences? Why does danah boyd goes into hers?

Why those as they seem to have nothing to do with Kathy’s case? Because that is what we personally care about and that is only thing we are interested in fixing: stuff we do care about.

I come back to Don’s quote.
What is the line for you? Are you willing to take the consequences of standing for this line? And how to you make sure your surrounding knows, this is the line which should not be crossed?

How about for example the line “innocent until proven guilty”? “Benefit of the doubt”? For both sides?

As said before, the world is not black and white. And we only evolve when we learn from experiences.

I can go through all the posts and comments and form my own opinion of what happened, and to which degree I am satisfied with explanations given (or not). I can try to keep an open mind and pay attention and details.

But in the end, it will boil down to:
What are my lines?
Are they crossed?
And where is the limit.


8 Responses to “Where is the line you do not want to cross?”

  1. My compliments to you. I believe this is exactly the right approach that should be taken in light of this most difficult circumstance. I applaud your willingness to see this as a multidimensional problem. More over I am very pleased that you are willing to place your own values directly in perspective with regards to the issues. When you do this you are offering applied practices and not just intellectual criticism. This is very important as we do not live in a purely intellectual world. As you observed, “This is how society has been build up for a very long time. The one problem with this? The rules have changed.”

    Brava! “Rules of society are the ones YOU are used to. I am not saying this to take myself out of responsibility, but making the point that “society” on this world wide scale has not developped its rules yet!”

    This acknowledgement, so eloquently stated, is KEY! I am sorry to be blunt but when the old rules were “applied” it did in fact feel, to me, like a lynching. I did not, have not and will not condone the inappropriate behavior (threats/misogyny) that have brought this matter to the fore. Equally we, I specifically, should not see this circumstance with only the intellectual perspective of the moral high ground. Historically speaking such a perspective has only served to get us (world societies) into far more trouble than a resolution of an immediate insult or complaint.

    It is our disciplined and ordered response to such a transgression that brings our humanity to the resolution.

    Thank you.

  2. Don Park says:

    The limit is when the line turns into a noose, I believe. How do we know when it’s too tight? My answer would be when we start to choke.

    Excellent post, Nicole.

  3. I miss running into you, Nicole. This post and comments elsewhere are why. Great post.

  4. Nicole says:

    Thanks for your comments.

    William, it is something I run in constantly in so little things, because although we think western society is alike, there are so many differences which make every day living already complicated. In essence, in part I play somebody else when I am in the States – and that is only California – to fit better in.

    In the long run I would like to find a way to be more of myself.

    Don: I’d rather not choke. ;(

    Jeremy: I will try posting more outside. :)

  5. I read your article but couldn’t understand it as I don’t know the events and I’m unlikely to find out, yet I’m still intrigued as one from the outer “perimeter” of your community.

  6. Nicole says:

    Chris, just follow the links to Techmeme one and two and do some reading, the ones with the big letters on Techmeme. ;)

  7. I should have read the links before I thought you were referring to a flame war. This is terrible…
    I hope that this issue will be picked up a discussed thoroughly.
    Noam Chomski has defended the free speech of people like Faurisson I wonder what his thoughts on this issue would be?

  8. Nicole says:

    I provided them for a reason. ;) Hmm flame war – I am afraid that it is a bit more than just that, and it can well be the advanced version of one, with a bigger spread.

    I sincerly hope it will not just become a footnote in history but we make something out of it …