Thanks, Elliot, for writing this perfect summary of all the bullish*t that has being going on for the last few months.
I enjoyed Medium when it was just the usual battle of the writers against the content marketers. But people have moved on from The Grammar Games, as there was no more creative soil left to till. Then we saw some bullying and a couple of women left the site. Then, we watched a couple of social justice warriors get into a useless battle. Then, we got the Poet vs. the Feminists. Then we lost another woman writer, bullied by other women. And now we’ve seen the pro choice debates deteriorate into an Animal House-style food fight.
I’ve stepped into a few rabbit holes on my own over the last few months, and wanted no part of any of this current insanity. And that’s all these millions of words amount to: insanity, ego, the refusal to recognize facts, and the inability to apologize when wrong.
Not one person who has reacted badly in all these proceedings is a bad person — that’s what makes this current sh*t storm so ridiculous.
To drill down deeper into one of the key points of your article, each of us brings our own internal context to the conversation, filled with trigger issues, hidden buttons, and a communication style and world view that is impossible to understand through our writing. This leads to three things:
- Each of us, regardless of our good intentions or committment to some righteous causes, has at one time or another been triggered by something we’ve read, regardless of whether it was the author’s intention or not.
- Each of us, regardless of our efforts to be empathetic and evolved, has, in anger, unconsciously ignored the observation “this thing I read has pushed some buttons in me and I need to examine why I’m reacting to it this way,” and decided to write an emotional message with the tone “how dare you write that, you motherf*cking (fill in the blank)-ist.”
- Each of us has cloaked our own personal issues within a larger cause, so that when we say something inappropriate, the other supporters of our cause are afraid to push back against extreme statements for fear of not being seen as a loyal supporter of that cause.
It’s about time that each of us take responsibility for our own sh*t and be able to say “When you wrote ________, I felt __________, because of my past experience with ____________. I apologize for reacting so badly.”
Personally, I have left a couple of my dumbest articles on Medium and then updated them with apologies to show others that if it’s possible for me to recognize that I have blind spots, others can do it, too.
(UPDATE: based on the responses to Elliot’s article)
For those of you who want to say, “Well, yes I did, but not as bad as they did,” that sounds like what my six-year-old son used to say. Just clean up your side of the street; it’s irrelevant what the other person does or does not do.
[PUBLIC SERVICE ANNOUNCEMENT: I realized the paragraph above came off way too strong, so I edited it. I apologize for reacting so badly. But I do stand by the idea that each of us is responsible for our own mistakes, regardless of how much the other person may have acted like an ass. I should add that the more mature we are, the higher standard we need to hold for ourselves. This is by no means an attempt to create a false equivalency. You may now continue to misinterpret everything I have written.)
For those of you who throw back Elliot’s words at him in anger, please reread numbers one through three. You think you’re making some amazing point about the nature of reality, when in fact you have reacted to some button he unwittingly pushed in you. Until you show yourself to be the second coming of God, armed with your words inscribed in stone tablets, you’re just a human being stating an over-emotional opinion, and likely to be just as full of sh*t as anyone else in the room.
Disclaimer: I apologize in advance for every toe that I have stepped on and every button I have pushed. Even though I number myself among the offenders, that’s probably not enough to overcome the reaction that some of you will undoubtedly have to the tone of this message. I tried to write as impartially as possible, but I’m sure some emotions slipped through. The inmates are running the asylum at Medium, and none of us can be a facilitator to this combination of group therapy and WWE.