The blogosphere may have started off as a small close-knit community of bloggers, but recent death threats received by Kathy Sierra, the prominent blogger shows that the doors of the blogosphere have been blown wide open. The social media/Web 2.0 revolution has brought about many amazing changes, but there’s a flip side to everything. This is an era blessed with democratization of media, where everyone has a voice and can be heard. Unfortunately, ‘everyone’ also includes crazies of the world.
The situation with Kathy has gotten so bad that she is terrified to leave her home and has cancelled her speaking engagements. She is not sure if she will ever blog again.
As I type this, I am supposed to be in San Diego, delivering a workshop at the ETech conference. But I’m not. I’m at home, with the doors locked, terrified. For the last four weeks, I’ve been getting death threat comments on this blog.
Blogging has made communication and collaboration so easy that a rookie (like myself) can "rub shoulders" online with the Goliaths of the offline world. But, this also means that every Joe Schmoe can do the same. Technology can be used for good or for evil. It makes it easier to connect with people, but that also means mentally unhinged folks can get to you easily as well.
I don’t know what’s more disturbing, the vicious nature of these threats or the folks who condone this kind of behavior. Although, we would like to believe that these are just random rantings from some mentally unstable individual/s, but according to Kathy, these threats have been posted on a blog co-authored/owned by a group of well-known bloggers.
But that’s not what pushed me over the edge. What finally did it was some disturbing threats of violence and sex posted on two other blogs… blogs authored and/or owned by a group that includes prominent bloggers. People you’ve probably heard of. People like respected Cluetrain Manifesto co-author Chris Locke (aka Rageboy).
With bloggers like these, who needs trolls?! It is unconscionable that someone would go to this extent to bring a popular blogger down. Competition can be vicious and this should serve as a reminder to those of us, who are naive enough to believe that the Internet is a safe haven from the loonies of the world and deathly competition.
Steve Rubel, a popular PR/technology blogger says,
Although startling and thoroughly condemnable, this situation – or God forbid worse – is bound to occur and it does all the time. Nobody should have to deal with such threats. However, the blogosphere is a community made up of human beings. Therefore, it’s going to bring out all of the good in society and also the bad. Sometimes they converge and that’s what is happening here. The bad are unjustly targeting someone good.
I agree! In the blogosphere, Kathy Sierra is a celebrity and the online world is no different from the offline world, when it comes to the public’s pathological attraction to well-known personas. The online world is probably more dangerous, because of the cover of anonymity that online media provides.
Kathy is one of the few credible women in the blogosphere and I hope she continues to blog. She’s an inspiration to all of us, especially women and we need her.