This post is not about gossip. It isn’t about spreading unconfirmed allegations. It is, however, about calling attention to the silence in Silicon Valley (the place and the principle) about a crucial matter of our time.
A former girlfriend of Techcrunch founder Mike Arrington alleged in a Facebook update that he abused her. Now, allegations of abuse happen all the time – many true, many untrue. And, as often is the case, when ‘celebrities’ are involved news travels fast. In fact much of what spreads is uninformed and infantile – and the surrounding discussions evade the core problem.
Domestic Violence is a tough topic to discuss: it’s poorly understood, our legal and political systems are arcane, and our culture still has yet to grasp the nature of violence – especially violence against women and children.
What’s disturbing about the allegation against Mike Arrington is that the tech blogger and Silicon Valley culture has been almost dead-silent on the matter. This silence is not attributable to “waiting for the facts to come in” – no, this is a community that will latch on to the slightest gossip with fury. So why so silent in this matter? What’s up with that? Here’s the SERP for Google Search in News more 2 days after the story broke.
Well, I think it’s important for the subject of this story to become a bigger story for two reasons: 1) We need to bring Domestic Violence out of our systemic denial of it and 2) the tech industry *is* important and leadership is essential – if we have poor leadership then we have both poor technology and poor uses of those technologies. So the two go together here.
If unconfirmed ‘facts’ can be tarted up in Infographics, embedded on tech blogs, and spread virally via social media, then why on earth would a topic as important as Domestic Violence get barely any traction?
The Tech industry should not be run by Misogyny. This is a community that had Red Avatars in support of Marriage Equality on millions of social media accounts. But how on earth can we expect to have Marriage Equality if we can’t even solve the problem of Domestic Violence? You tell me.
So below is Loren Feldman eloquently outlining the problem. Loren is one of the smartest people in tech – many people fear him for some reason, but I think that’s just their insecurity. But this post isn’t about Loren – I post his video here, however, because the question is: Why is Loren pretty much the only person in tech to speak up?
Is Mike Arrington so terrifying to the tech community? I never met him, so I can’t be a judge. But really – why so silent? And where’s Arriana Huffington in all of this?
So, for what it’s worth, here’s Loren’s video. I hope you watch all of it. I hope the *topic* of Domestic Violence gets a lot more public attention in Silicon Valley because the things it produces will influence us for a very long time. If those who want us to accept their ideologies of Open Source, etc. can’t speak up on Domestic Violence, then what credibility do they have? How can we trust that they will fight for all human dignity? Why should we listen to them?
We can’t claim Social Media and Tech is “revolutionary” if important topics are thrown into the shadow because of personalities being afraid of facing real problems or focusing on drama. It’s the 21st Century. It’s time for us to grow up. Because children who never grow up eventually hurt children, and the cycle never ever ends.