Photo by @seriouspony

You Hurt Seriouspony, You Hurt All of Us

This afternoon, while following along with the tweets from #dpm2014, a conference for digital project managers that I really should be at, I wanted to share an article by Seriouspony that helped me overcome some of my reservations about public speaking.

Her article, “Presentation Skills Considered Harmful,” explores her own fears about speaking and a mindset that she uses to help overcome them. She encourages speakers to “become a UI” and “disappear…to enable the user experience.” Perfectly stated and carefully written. Like all of her wonderful tweets and beautiful photographs of Icelandic ponies.

When I went to link her in my tweet, she was gone.

I probed some more and learned that she’s left Twitter, now for the second time.

I am sick about this.

I am sick about the bullshit surrounding “GamerGate.”

I am sick about what happened to Sarah Parmenter.

I am sick about those assholes who were given a forum for their tit-finder app at TechCrunch last year.

I am sick about it all, but sitting here, being sick, and crying in frustration won’t do a damn thing.

So I ask of you: What can we do?

I’m open on Twitter; hell, I’m open IRL. Anyone who knows me “online” knows the real me; the only difference between what I tweet and what I say is that it’s easier to be sweary in a tweet. I’ve got children about, you see.

I unabashedly post #selfies and talk about where I live. I share pictures of my kids. I talk frankly on podcasts.

But all of this shit is making me think twice, and that sucks. It sucks big time. It sucks for all of us, women and men, who enjoy the freedom of being ourselves online.

It sucks because I have genuine friends on Twitter whom I would do anything for. If they were in my town with a flat tire, I’d drive the Parkway West at 5:10 pm to help them. I’d cook them dinner.

And I know they’d do the same for me.

And because we all can’t move to Pittsburgh, and I can’t move to Saskatoon, and there isn’t a big enough house in Seattle, we all have to come together on the Internet.

And I want that Internet to be a safe place, not a place where I’m afraid to be myself and wear lip gloss for fear of the drawing attention of some lonely, sad asshole who thinks I have no right to say what I say and act how I act.

Fuck anyone who thinks otherwise.

I miss you, Kathy. We all do.

UPDATE: Kathy posted this today: It may be gone soon, who knows. But read it. And think about it.

And for fuck’s sake, prevent it.