What Not To Do: Things I shouldn’t have to say.
Recently, there were a few incidents. I’m not going to name any names, because I don’t want to set this up so Internet Moon Court can hemm and hawww, and I’ve been to enough events in the past few months that I think it’s safe to write about without there being any clear indicators of who or what I’m speaking. I do want to prevent these events from happening in the future, so here’s a primer on What Not To Do if you invite me to participate in an event or speak to your company.
Do not ask me to fight for you only to spend your time arguing about how my solutions aren’t enough of a compromise in front of the very peers you knew were going to be the biggest hinderances to accomplishing positive change. We are not playing a game of good cop/bad cop. I am not here so you can look like you’re the reasonable one.
Do not think that I have not considered the business cases for each usage model, including monetization and projected platform growth before making my recommendations.
Do not assume that I’m pushing an ideal instead of what’s viable. I understand the middle ground, and that’s usually where I live. If I only offered up idealistic solutions, no one would ever implement my suggestions, and they wouldn’t be that great in the first place.
Don’t think I’m offended that your solutions are boring. I’m offended that you don’t want to innovate. If you’re going to talk about how the internet is so broken, stop being so fucking afraid to try something new and interesting.
Do not put your finger in my face. Ever. If you do this, you will be very lucky if it is not bitten off. We are not friends that joke like this. We are colleagues. This is disrespectful and aggressive. This is an even worse idea if you’re a man.
Do not tell me “it’s okay, she’s fine with it” when I point out that all of your examples of abuse are targeting the only woman of color in our group. You know, it’s so much fun being othered. It’s really hard to speak up for someone in a large group like this. Don’t discount it so quickly when someone tries. Do not tell me I’m misunderstanding her body language when I try to talk to you about this in private later. I know what it’s like to feel uncomfortable, especially after being a part of this conversation for the past 20 minutes and wanting to escape the aggressive finger pointing for the last 19.
Do not constantly interrupt me and speak over me. I’m the fucking expert. Sit down, shut up, and listen to what I have to say instead of making assumptions.
Do not police my language online. Fuck you.
Do not tell me to Lean In. I’ve been flipping tables for longer than you’ve been in this industry.
Do not issue subtle threats about how if I go public with any discontent, companies won’t trust me. I hadn’t even made comments about going public, and it was (and continues to be) in my best interest to work with the companies instead of using public interest to apply pressure, but I do not appreciate threats. Ever. That’s almost a sure way to get me to do the thing that you don’t want me to do.
Do not tell me that people — always unnamed — warned you about me and how I like to tableflip online. You’ve been following me on Twitter. You know what you bought into. I’ve never broken an NDA, and the only bridge I’ve burned was one I didn’t care to keep.
Do not speak to me like I’m some junior sysadmin that’s new to tech. I’m one of the leading experts in this industry when it comes to mitigating abuse through platform architecture. There isn’t even a buzzword for precisely what niche I’m in, I’m that fucking rare. Full-stack but for every level of design, engineering, and monetization instead of just development. Do not assume I don’t know my own worth. I’m very good at what I do.
Do not waste my time. There’s a huge backlog of companies and events that have requested my participation, and I have to turn some down. If you want me to speak to your company, be prepared to listen.
Do not try to buy me. I’m crowdfunded. I don’t charge companies, and there’s a very good reason for that. I have no corporate allegiances. I genuinely want to help people, and I understand that’s confusing for some. It means that I don’t get luxuries like good health care. What makes you think I’m going to betray my ethics for a few thousand dollars?
Do not try to get me to sign a non-disparagement agreement. Fuck your non-disparagement agreement. I will gladly sign a non-disclosure, and as most companies I’ve worked with can tell you (if you can figure out who they are, because hey, I’m pretty quiet about all of that), I’m a patient and understanding person. As long as I think a company is actually trying, I understand that change takes a while, and I’m happy. But I reserve the right to be publicly unhappy if the situation escalates to a point at which I feel the need to terminate the conversation because public interest would be more effective. See: Do not waste my time. Even then, there’s a delicate balance to be had. If I came out to complain about every company that made me unhappy, well, it wouldn’t be an effective use of my time.
Do not ask me to utilize my contacts for you if you violate a large number of the above points. I’m not going to inflict your personality quirks upon people with which I’ve spent time building professional relationships.
Do not think that being ADHD is an excuse. I’ve got ADHD, too, and I don’t use this to justify being physically aggressive or as a reason for trying to threaten someone’s career. Being ADHD isn’t an excuse to be pulled out when you’ve fucked up.
Last, if you think this post was about you, it probably was. Don’t contact me again. I’m not necessarily done working with your organization, but I will not be working with you again, ever. I do not want your apologies. I want your absence from my inbox. I want you to not make these same mistakes if you work with any one of my colleagues. This bullshit has to stop.