Tuesday, September 29, 2015

This was not OK (regrets)

I have one major regret from StrangeLoop. I want to apologize and find a kinder way to be.

At dinner the last night, I said something mean about Tony Morris. I've never met Tony Morris. I have a feeling of certainty that he was mean to people in the Scala community, and this contributed to a splintering of the community. I am not in favor of communities including or elevating people who are mean to anyone else. See Pieter Hintjens on this.

And I was wrong to speak scornfully of him. I can see this because I saw the hurt in Philip Wadler when I said it. Later he mentioned collaborating with Tony Morris on some important work.

People aren't all bad or all good. Some of us are horrible and fantastic. Mean in some situations and great contributors elsewhere. The good and the bad, they don't cancel each other. Both exist. We are not a sum; there is not a one-dimensional number line between "good" and "bad." 

If he caused a splintering in a community, then probably that community is better off without his direct participation. And if he collaborated on great work with someone else, or did great work alone, I am grateful for it. 

If I denigrate him or that work, by implication or indirectly, then I am causing splintering in the community. I ruined a chance to exchange ideas with Philip Wadler, who was extremely kind to me (he even didn't show his hurt feelings) and who invited me to that dinner. Who is bringing excellent ideas, in code and in talks, to the whole programming community. Who is wide open to new ideas and experiments.

I don't yet know the best way to talk about these community problems, which are very important to discuss. Now I know that it is not by denigrating or scorning anyone. I need, I feel it in my soul, to celebrate everyone in the times when they shine, to cherish the contributions they do make, even when they don't shine in every situation. We can celebrate this without perfect inclusivity (there is no such thing). I deserve to be excluded from that dinner; it would have made everyone else more comfortable, a net win for the community. And separately, I do help in other ways. Can't belong everywhere. 

I am sorry. I see that my words caused pain and it's my fault. In the future I will endeavor to not speak scornfully of anyone. To criticize actions and people-in-roles only when working on improving the system, not a whole person ever. To deal with my own experience of being bullied instead of lashing out whenever my brain makes an association with it. 

I want to be a source of healing and encouragement to a community, not further splinter it. Thank you for your patience. 

9 comments:

  1. Jessica, I agree with all you say, except for three things: you didn't hurt me, you didn't ruin any chance to exchange ideas with me, and you certainly belonged at that dinner. I was glad to share a meal with you and hope to do so again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. So what's the answer then? You're not advocating that we just ignore bad behavior are you? We have a responsibility to be kind to everyone, but we also have a responsibility to protect people from bad actors.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Nope, we should not ignore bad behavior. Correct it, say "that's not cool, " and if a person keeps doing it, eject the one who's hurting others. Exclude the few bad actors, to include the many.

      And I don't have to hate him for it. Nor speak scornfully. Nor stop appreciating useful work he's done. That's all.

      Delete
  3. You've made my day. Thanks.

    PS: I am told I have been in the same room as you, but we didn't get a chance to meet. Some day!

    ReplyDelete
  4. I think you are overthinking it. You are not the first person to make this sort of comment regarding Mr Morris. And, I'm sure that Philip Wadler has overheard many other people at other times make similar remarks. Yes, it may be a bit of an awkward social situation but you should not feel the need to discover or place blame on the person responsible for the awkwardness. Although, if you are so inclined, then in fact I would say that the blame should be placed on Mr Morris directly (for being mean in the first place) and Mr Wadler indirectly for enabling Mr Morris. Who knows that Mr Morris would not have acted more civilly if only someone with the fame and stature of Mr Wadler would have had the courage to confront him publicly on such boorish behaviour.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't disagree with your assessment.
      The only part I have control over is my own behavior. I will say "that's not cool" to meanness, and support codes of conduct and the enforcement of them (especially the public enforcement of them). And also try to appreciate each person, in the situations where they do contribute positively.

      Delete
  5. It's important to remember as adults everyone has different personalities, you might not agree with some one or clash with the way they think as different to you but it's important to accept not everyone is the same. If you don't agree, agree to disagree and move on. As long as it's not abusive or personal that's life. You could even call it diversity, these different thought paths.

    It's also good to remember someones persona behind a keyboard may be different to real life. It's harder to get across the intent and far easier to be misinterpreted behind a keyboard. In a distributed world language differences also don't help. 140 characters on twitter, pr comments, short irc messages etc are easy to be misread.

    In regards to Mr Morris. When I was new to Scala; i probably still am, reading mailing lists, discovering Scalaz thinking what the hell is this, how can you use this in real life the only useful thing is the Validations etc, reading his posts he was very blunt and can come over elitist, or to be blunt a cunt.

    Since then I met him at a conference, sat in a workshop hosted by him and he is/was the complete opposite to what I was expecting. In the workshop he was a great teacher, demonstrating points, patient etc etc, it was a very good workshop! It was also clear he may be strongly opinionated but he certainly knows what he's talking about and can justify them; maybe to concisely online.

    The lesson was it's wrong to judge someone you've never met, you may be completely wrong. If you don't agree hey, move on and don't give a fuck http://markmanson.net/not-giving-a-fuck but accept someone elses view point / personality may be different to yours, that's ok we are adults.

    ReplyDelete