The past week I finished “Straight to Hell”. The book describes the debauchery and decadence of the lives of the bankers in the pre-Lehman’s era. The stories are amusingly written, and horrifying. Although it’s easy to demonize an entire group of people because of a salacious book, the book does force you to ask the question: if you were in a similar environment what would you do?
And this past week, with the discussion of a boycott of Twitter, I thought to myself, maybe I am in such an environment.
Over the last several years, I have been a devoted user of Twitter. I enjoyed the ability to participate in conversations about the Montreal Canadiens. I enjoyed learning in real-time about the chaos of the world.
I found people who were really interesting. Lauren Duca and Teen Vogue. I learned about the Death of Expertise. I learned about how Snowden was a Russian tool from the very beginning.
I learned about Russian counter-espionage.
I learned about Deep Tech, following Matt Ocko.
I saw daily art.
And at the same time, I saw how Twitter refuses to police its own platform. Twitter allows the President of the USA to speak to people in a way that if he was in my house, I would ask him to leave.
Working at VMware, I am made aware of how leadership style and tone are crucial. Pat Gelsinger is an amazing leader and a man of high moral standing. And what I admire most about him, is that he doesn’t tolerate the use of crude language in his presence. And as a result, this percolates down.
VMware is probably the least profane place I have ever worked at.
And that makes VMware special.
And that got me thinking about Twitter and this book I just read. Donal Trump sets the bar for what is acceptable on Twitter. If the President of the USA can use ethnic slurs (Pocahantas Warren), then so can Spencer. If David Duke can tell a woman like Lauren Duca to go back into the kitchen, then so can every asshole on the platform.
And I was morally conflicted. On the one hand, Twitter has enriched my life. On the other, I can no longer ignore the tone of Twitter. And when I routinely see Twitter refuse to remove violent language from its feed, it tells me who Twitter wants to hang out with.
And because I hang out on Twitter, Twitter’s decisions reflect on me.
My grandfather who was a very moral person, would have looked at Twitter, and said: I thought I raised my daughter better. He would have been so appalled with my choices, that he would look to my mother for her choices and how she raised me.
And that made me stop and think.
In my life, and I want to work with people like Pat. I want to interact with people who value civility and decency.
Going off Twitter isn’t a permanent thing. There is a lot that I value. And I learn a lot. And I am just one lousy irrelevant person.
But the company I choose to keep says a lot about me. And so I’ll walk away for a while.