Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'stopcyberbullying'

OK, I’m old, but this seems wrong to me

June 6th, 2007 · Comments Off on OK, I’m old, but this seems wrong to me

ThinkGeek’s Annoy-a-tron might sound funny or cute–but what do you think of this email they quote from a “satisfied customer” who planted one on a co-worker?

I have watched this simple device transform an (until-now) mild-mannered colleague into a spitting, cussing, paranoid lunatic.
He has ordered all of the staff he supervises (not a small number) to locate the source of the dread beeping before doing anything else (but since they are in on the prank, they haven’t been much help). So he waits, white-knuckles gripping the edge of his desk, anticipating the next beep…nearly bursting that vein on his temple as he shouted it: “That beep has been F***ING with me for HOURS now.”
He has called the facilities department to schedule a maintenance worker to investigate. He speculates that “they” might be doing air-quality testing in the building. This beep must be some device in the ducts detecting dangerous levels of asbestos in the air. Or worse. Radon? Aerosolized mercury? Legionella spores?
The beep means something. What does the beep mean? Is it a warning? It sounds urgent, doesn’t it? It’s telling us to do something. But what? … I imagine that soon he will begin to take things apart. He will methodically dismantle all of the electrical devices in his office, creating an unusually precise metaphor for what is happening in his psyche.
I am reminded what a thin and fragile thread keeps us attached to sanity. Today, this tiny little device helped me break a co-worker’s mind, and I thank you for the sinfully pleasurable schadenfreude.

Sinful pleasure in other people’s pain is increasingly marketed to young men. Marketers vie for some bad-boy demographic that gets a charge out of guys insulting their girlfriends or a bunch of guys teaming up for hours of sport humiliating some coworker.
OK, let me be really old here and give some advice. Marketers want to sell stuff, not to make your life better. Making your life better requires teaming up with other people, some of whom sometimes will really annoy you. When you hurt people who thought you were on their team, you risk turning friends into enemies or at least skeptics. You damage the team, which was your team.
I’m a fan of ThinkGeek, but this time I don’t like what they’re selling.

Tags: Editorial · Sister Age · stopcyberbullying

Pat and Mike and don’t “Stop cyberbullying”

March 30th, 2007 · 2 Comments

Cartoon says Stop cyberbullying
Two Irishmen jumped off the Empire State Building…which brings me to my own suggestion for turning the Kathy Sierra horror story into a victory for blogging kindness. Let me tell you a (non-PC) story I heard from my dad…


Pat and Mike and their half empty bottle of whiskey somehow get to the top of the Empire State Building. “Sure, and a leap to the ground would be a glorious end to this fine evening,” says Pat.

“I’m not so sure,” says Mike. “What if it hurts?”

“Ye baby” says Pat, “watch this.” So Pat jumps over and hollers back up to Mike, “Jump, ye baby, it doesn’t hurt at all.”

So then Mike jumps, and he and Pat are both flying down through the air and feeling grand. But Pat is still that little bit in front. So Pat hits the ground first. And Pat yells up to Mike, “Mikey–go back, go back–it hurts, it hurts!”

Good people around the blogworld are asking how we can defend cyberbullying victims like Kathy Sierra. But the great story here is that Kathy defended herself against bullies who lured each other on into more and more outrageous posts and comments.

One minute the bullies, like Pat, were flying high, with power to hurt and diminish whatever they touched. Then–thanks to Kathy–bullies hit the reality that a wide public is reading ugly comments made about *them*.

It hurts, it hurts.

No, I’m not rejoicing in anyone’s pain. There’s been more than enough pain to go around in this whole sorry mess.

My point is–let’s get back to the positive here–that warning cyberbullies to “Remember Kathy Sierra” is powerful and likely to succeed. It’s not a call to improve your morality. It’s a call to remember the horrible wrath that rained down on anyone who had even tenuous connections to sites where anons gathered to bully Kathy Sierra. Respected people, good people, like Frank Paynter and Jeneane Sessum, whose work on the web had made them widely loved, suddenly found themselves under truly scary attack by angry (and well-meaning) people who were ready to shoot first and maybe aim later.

“Remember Kathy Sierra.” It’s better though longer than “Stop Cyberbullying.” And it’s shorter than my alternative warning to potential cyberbullies:

“Go back, go back. It hurts, it hurts.”

p.s. I bless Andy Carvin for “Stop Cyberbullying Day,” (also Scott MacLeod for some great cartoons.)

Tags: funny · Metablogging · stopcyberbullying

Not ready to make nice

March 29th, 2007 · Comments Off on Not ready to make nice

Dixie Chicks

Originally uploaded by Kingsnake.

Frank and I watched that Dixie Chicks movie tonight–three young women, toting seven babies among them, trying to make a career in the public arena, end up a focus of loonies who think it’s great fun to target prominent women with ugly insults, an attempt to wreck their career, and some (maybe credible and maybe not) death threats.

I had no idea, when I borrowed Shut Up and Sing from my little sis in Florida, that it would be so relevant to the current blogstorm surrounding ugly insults (and more) aimed at some of the blogosphere’s most high-profile women on some websites that just got called out by Kathy Sierra.

I’m glad that by pushing back hard and loudly and effectively, Kathy Sierra has got some much-needed wider public attention to cyber-bullying. I would have preferred it if her mention of their names hadn’t aimed lynch-mob psychologies toward two of my most admired elder-bloggers, Jeneane Sessum and Frank Paynter. (And I am proud of my old friend Dave Winer for stepping up to defend Frank and Jeneane and even Rageboy, all of whom have said some pretty harsh things about him in the past.)

I’m not in favor of lynch-mobs–and I should probably take Dean Landsman’s good advice to “Blog no evil.”

But I’m not ready to make nice on this.

I think that those who wrote ugly stuff about Kathy and Maryam and Tara deserve to think about what it would mean to have their own real names permanently attached to the nasty stuff they wrote in some “sekrit” web clubhouse.

Doc Searls was told that some unknown hacker made all this big mess. If that’s the case, said hacker has been responsible for criminal acts far beyond cyber-bullying, and I look forward to reading more about police efforts to learn the troll’s identity. Update: Doc has now expressed some doubts of his own on this story.

I hope that Kathy and Maryam and Tara will dismay their tormentors, as the Dixie Chicks did, by moving on to more renown and new achievements.

Tags: Good versus Evil · Metablogging · stopcyberbullying