I just read Kathy Sierra’s post about the death threats she’s received and I’m shocked. I’ve been on the web a long time, and see some really horrible stuff, but what never ceases to amaze me is how cruel people can be.
For some reason when our interaction with someone is online and we’re reading text they’ve written or looking at pictures they’ve taken, we somehow think of them as less than a real person. They become their work, not the person behind the work – which is dangerous. It opens the door to this kind of thing.
I don’t even know that there’s a solution other than education and treating this stuff like the crime that it is. Threats are not protected speech. They are threats, and that’s against the law. Just because you think you’re anonymous doesn’t mean you are. Just because someone shares things online – words, photos, videos, etc – doesn’t mean they’re not a real person with real feelings.
For me, I try (and often fail) to think of what I write, especially in comments and e-mail, as something I’m saying to that person face to face. If I wouldn’t say it someone standing in front of me, I probably won’t post it online. It’s saved me a lot of embarrassment and problems over the years.
I’ve lived my life pretty much in public since I started this blog about seven years ago. I never quite understood why others didn’t until recently. After talking to several women over the past year, I think I’m starting to understand, and it makes me really sad. I don’t know what, if anything, I can do to fix things other than doing a better job of following my own rules.
Kathy, I think you’re awesome. Your blog is one of my absolute favorites, and you’re an inspiration to me and to my work (and ask the people I work with – I send out links to your posts all the time). Here’s hoping the idiots responsible are caught quickly and this ugliness is resolved so you can get back to doing what you love (assuming you love blogging and presenting).
Disclaimers and Stuff