The blogosphere is buzzing about the cyber-threats and bullying that popular blogger Kathy Sierra is experiencing.
Why do people have to be so immature and destructive? In the workplace, we'd investigate and take action. The virtual businessplace is more difficult to deal with.
Kathy is an excellent writer and blogger, but she's thinking of quitting her blog because she does not feel safe. Such a shame. I hope that those responsible are identified and dealt with.
Why does this type of stuff get this far? Free speech, sure. But I think a bigger problem is that we tolerate the actions that lead up to serious threats. We facilitate the escalation of bad behaviors. How?
We find distasteful jokes funny and acceptable.
We make degrading porn readily available and acceptable to view.
We air TV shows starring people at their worst - cheaters, bullies, murderers - and we make them stars.
We love to watch people who are out of control (and who are encouraged by the attention).
We read blogs that are written by people bullies and self-absorbed brats.
On and on.
I have worked on many gnarly issues in the workplace and they almost always escalate due to an acceptance of lesser bad behaviors.
We vote with our eyes, actions, and time. If we do not read blogs that trash other people, those blogs will disappear. If we don't tolerate sexism or bullying, or off-color jokes, people stop. When we don't tolerate this stuff, we see less really bad stuff like what Kathy is dealing with today.
I used to work for a company that had an out of control senior exec. At company functions he got drunk and abusive, and at work he was highly moody and was known for lashing out at people. I can honestly say that during the time I worked there, he never lashed out at me. Had he, it would have been his last time. I think he knew this. The shame is that the organization was immature and put up with this destructive behavior. I was always afraid of what might come next. I would not rule out something very bad.
Who knows what all the actions were that led up to this situation with Kathy Sierra. I am guessing that there were many marginal comments and actions that were tolerated - perhaps even reinforced - that encouraged the escalation of this situation.
What are we tolerating today with your attention, time, and eyeballs? Attention emboldens people, so give your attention carefully.