I remember when email was new. I remember writing to a friend the summer before my senior year of college, using PINE. When we met again on campus, I blurted out, “OMG! You’re not just ASCII!” (I’ve been a geek for a very long time.)
Over the years of blogging and communicating via “social media” and other online forums, it becomes apparent we sometimes forget we’re not just talking to computers. I know early on, I personally made that mistake with a snarky comment not stopping to remember there’s an actual human on the other side of the screen. Teaching online classes at a university taught me how open students will be, for better or worse, when you’re not sitting across from them face to face. We see this over and over again, and some people even shut off their truth to protect themselves from the onslot of criticism.
My job includes an online community filled with wonderful people. People who care enough to provide feedback in a respectful way. And I appreciate that. We all do. But there are times people forget we’re talking about humans sitting at a computer reading this feedback, taking the feedback to heart, and trying to come up with an action plan to fix it.
(My favorite SNL skit EVER is “FIXIT” and I hear myself saying this at work right now. “You take a problem, you take another problem, and then you FIXIT. Repeat until it’s ALL FIXED.”)
It’s about this time a friend reaches out and asks how I am. We talk and end up sharing stories of our children. “What *IS* it with night time? They NEVER GO TO SLEEP.” “I know? What IS that?” “The multiple trips to the toilet for no reason only to piss me off really gets me. And when I call them on it, they poop just to prove me wrong. I swear it’s at will.” “MINE DO THAT TOO.”
So while I take my job very seriously, and I hurt for the frustrations the community feels and I plan to FIXIT, I am also reminded I’m a human, a wife, a mother, a friend. All it takes is a little parenting camaraderie to remember the world outside of my computer, and the two little reasons I do this at all.
There’s such a fine line between “transparency” and “dirty laundry” in the professional world.
By Laura on 2010 10 14
Let me clarify: YOU are not airing dirty laundry here! I just meant that a lot of your critics ask for “transparency” not realizing just how difficult it is to navigate between open communication and, well, the tech-world version of “OMG! My 8 year old nursling just will NOT potty train!”
By Laura on 2010 10 14
HAHAHA! Wait, I’d so totally say that. :D
By Mrs. Flinger on 2010 10 14
A great example of this is the amount of bile the people of the IE9 team have to endure on their IE blog.
Yeah, we all know IE sucks, but the people on the IE team are just that: people. People with a life outside their work, with loved ones and family. How easily we forgot amidst the relative anonymity of the internet.
By Erwin Heiser on 2010 10 14
Erwin, there something else about that: I think they are really brave, those IE-guys. When you get all that flack, all that hate and bile against you, it’s hard to trust your instincts. It isn’t just a job anymore, I would assume.
Leslie, I think this was a great little post right now. As much as I am passionate about EE, its problems and its community, I just got reminded by something that all that isn’t what’s real and important about my life.
There are other things than the work we do that means more, and the reminder fell at somewhat of a perfect time. I don’t know.
It’s lovely that we share this honesty, everyone. It seems EllisLab are trying as well, and that’s actually whats important: that honest try to better something - However we perceive and judge it. That’s life.
I’m calling my grandmother tomorrow, just to get an update. We both really like it whenever we talk, even if it’s far inbetween.
I hope Leslie get some nice moments before his grandfather is gone.
By Fred Carlsen on 2010 10 14
I am so with you, woman. So with you, as always. And I SO used PINE, too. <3 love you.
By syd on 2010 10 15
Goddammit woman, FIXIT!!!!!!!!
By VDog on 2010 10 19