In 2016 I attended DrupalCon New Orleans. While I was there I sent some Tweets that were very thoughtless to two specific individuals and the community.
I take full responsibility for my actions. Maybe someone else can see themselves approaching this level of “othering” and dehumanizing behavior and can benefit from my experience.
In one case, I harassed a speaker who obviously put her heart and souls into a presentation. I disagreed with the subject matter, and continued to send tweets at her. This was totally unacceptable behavior and I’m truly sorry.
I’m sorry because of the pain I inflicted on the speaker directly, and that because of my actions, a woman considering entering this field may have seen my posts, and decided against moving forward. I truly believe that if one of my own daughters had seen that, they may have dismissed the entire community as toxic and would have lost a tremendous opportunity for a great career such as I have enjoyed.
The other thing I did was to send a terrible image to another member of the community specifically to cause offense.
This was a hateful, disgusting act. Again, if some young person were to see that as an example of the inclusion and diversity of the Drupal community, they would have been repulsed. Drupal is no longer a “good ole’ boy’s club” and yet that’s how I treated it. Essentially, with callous disregard for anyone not like me or my friends.
I have no excuse, and can only say that upon speaking with friends and mentors that my actions are something no professional (or even human being) should ever commit. And since then my focus has changed dramatically.
My two guiding principles are now:
- There are always things you have in common with others. You always have a common purpose of some kind, even with people you may disagree with on other issues. In the case of the Drupal community, the goal is to build the community into one anyone from any background can excel in.
- All people deserve to be treated with respect and kindness. I’ve always been treated well by others in the community, and I’ve betrayed everyone in that community and owe it to them to always do better.
In summary, to the Drupal Community that has provided me with the tools I’ve needed to build a wonderful 13-year career with Drupal:
To anyone else who engages is the kind of harassment that I did, I’d implore you: take this seriously. This is no joke. “Mean words on the internet aren’t real harassment” is wrong. I know that now. Just look at the real life impact bullying can have on the young and marginalized. People seeking acceptance and help should never receive scorn, belittlement or hatred in response. Something that might be funny to you (as it was to me) can be cruel and even change the course of someone’s life. It’s simply too dangerous to ignore.
Treat strangers on the Internet like you would meeting people you might share a plane row with or your new neighbors that have just moved in. Look for common ground. Show respect. Be kind.
Do unto others as you would have done to you.
Finally, I’d like to thank the members of the Community Working Group that have taken time out of their busy schedules to give me great advice, and to listen to my concerns, throughout this unfortunate journey. Their support, caring and patience are amazing. I honestly never thought I’d be treated fairly, but I was quite wrong.