A Letter

I have sat, quietly, for hours today, reading and rereading Kathy’s post.

I don’t have any clear thoughts in response. I admire Kathy for so many things; being articulate in response to hate is one of them. I am not feeling articulate.

Alan Jacobs compares the mob who have gone after Kathy and others to the KKK. That sounds apt. Not only in regards to the extremity of the violence, but the fact that the people who perpetuated it could walk in plain sight. That you’d share coffee with someone who you knew, the night before, had donned a mask and lynched a man, but hey, here he was, being respectable. The real danger then and now wasn’t in the man who took off the mask and then walked freely; it was in all the people who nodded politely in his direction as he strode past.

Kathy’s post isn’t only about how trolling has evolved into something much more sinister, or how distinguishing between online and IRL is meaningless, or how misogyny perpetuates itself and has even escalated in online spaces in response to what, I think, are genuine signals that this is its last gasping chance—it’s also about how the tech community has systematically failed women. How it continues to fail them. How it will continue to fail them.

I realized, when reading Kathy’s post for the third or maybe it was the fourth time, that I had silently committed to an exit strategy. I am going to leave Twitter. Maybe not right away, but eventually. Maybe soon. I’m already scoping out other places I can go to (this newsletter may be one of them). I’m going to leave before I get to the Kool-Aid point if I can, because, fuck I don’t have time for that. My friends and family don’t have time for that.

I frequently mentor women and people of color in the tech industry, and I’ve found myself repeating, more urgently each time, that it’s OK to leave, that there are other ways to live and work in this world that may be easier on your heart, and it’s OK to make that choice. I’ve felt a weird sort of ringing sound go off when I’ve said that, the sound I hear when I think I’m fucking up; I took it to mean, at first, that I was being too strident, too negative. People are coming to me for advice and I’m scaring them off; that’s not an appropriate or even especially helpful tactic to take.

But today I realized: that advice felt off because of where it was directed. I didn’t mean it for others.

I meant it for me.