When is enough…enough?

For every action, there is a consequence. What we do today will determine what happens tomorrow. This can be easy to forget when writing on the Internet when the assumption is: you’ll never see the person you are writing about face to face.

A quote from Mike Arrington:

Yesterday as I was leaving the DLD Conference in Munich, Germany someone walked up to me and quite deliberately spat in my face. Before I even understood what was happening, they veered off into the crowd, just another dark head in a dark suit. People around me stared, then looked away and continued their conversation.

What I found particularly disturbing: “People around me stared, then looked away and continued their conversation.”

That’s a cold thing for people to do and it clearly sends a message: In the technology/start up niche, Arrington is “needed”. He is a necessity to get publicity. He is not liked and one could question if he is respected. To put this into perspective, how many people go to their jobs because they need the job, but detest the work or detest the people they work with? It’s the same thing.

Consequences

In everything we do, there are consequences to our actions. Arrington has done some questionable things (not like we all haven’t at some point in our lives) and some seemed very vindictive. Of course there are things that happen in the background the public knows nothing about. It has been said many times by people behind start ups that they felt they “had” to get on TechCrunch or they would not thrive. Not to knock TechCrunch but the site should have healthy competition, there should not be “one” site that dominates because it isn’t good for the niche. It gives one entity too much control and that is never a good thing.

Unfortunately, the resentment seems to have built up without doing anything to mitigate the damage it was creating. The person who did it knew Arrington wasn’t going to fight back because he rarely does. He admitted in the article that he didn’t respond to negative comments/articles (understandable considering the volume) and I can understand the position he was/is in but it’s like being on the playground and letting someone kick your butt. I have no doubt it would have been tough to respond to all of those things but saying nothing sent out the message that there are no consequences for malicious behavior (there is a difference between negative criticism and attacking someone verbally).

About Those Consequences….

You reap what you sew. Do I agree with someone spitting on Arrington? Absolutely not. It’s cowardly, despicable behavior. Do I agree with the people who stood there and said nothing? Absolutely not. If I knew who they were I’d make sure I’d never buy their product, visit their blog, or aid in their success at all. However, whether one wants to admit it or not, the actions Arrington made over the years led up to the spitting incident. People continuing their conversations when he was spat on shows the animosity that has been brewing for years. It’s great to take some time off but the problems will still be there.

Dave Winer recently realized he is one of the most hated people on the internet. He’s right, he is…right up there with Arrington. Hated. Resented. Ridiculed. I don’t agree with those adjectives and I don’t agree with everything Winer (nor Arrington) says but I respect his accomplishments just as I respect Arrington’s.

The difference between the two is that Winer is actively attempting to do something to change his reputation. Arrington is taking a vacation. Eventually, if Arrington wants things to change, he will have to make an effort to undo the animosity and dislike people in his niche feel towards him.

Or it will happen again. Or worse.