There’s always something to howl about

You want to get someone’s attention? Try ‘pardon me’. Even a shoe toss is more civil than spitting in one’s face.

It takes some chutzpah to have such an opinion about things and become as successful as Michael Arrington has with TechCrunch.  Yesterday he posted about how he’s going off the grid, after the abuse from his peers and critics becomes threatening to his family’s safety.

TechCrunch – ‘Some things need to change’

Luckily my tolerance level for verbal abuse has risen proportionately to our growth, so I can handle most of the verbal abuse thrown our way. I can even handle it when my so called friends decide it’s in their best interest to spread negative rumors about us privately. I believe that it has changed me as a person to the point where I generally don’t trust people until they’ve earned it. Before TechCrunch I assumed most people were essentially good, and assumed that an individual was trustworthy until proven otherwise. Today, its exactly the opposite.

But like I said, I draw the line at being spat on. It’s one step away from something far more violent.

Something very few people know: last year over the summer an off balance individual threatened to kill me and my family. He wasn’t very stealthy about it – he called our office number, sent me emails and even posted threats on his blog, so it wasn’t hard to determine who he was. The threats were, in the opinion of security experts we consulted, serious. The individual has a felony record and owns a gun. Police in three states became involved and we hired a personal security team to protect me, my family and TechCrunch employees.

At over $2,000 a day we couldn’t keep paying for security indefinitely. And the police were helpful but couldn’t do much based on the threats until he acted. We had the option of getting a restraining order but that just tells the person exactly where you are (the places they can’t go). So for a week I was literally in hiding with my parents at their home. The TechCrunch office was empty, and the police made regular checks to see if things were ok. One evening they almost arrested one of our employees who stopped by the office to pick up something.

Seeing my parents fear for their lives and not understand how or why their son was in this position changed me, made me a much less forgiving person in general.

I write about technology startups and news. In any sane world that shouldn’t make me someone who has to deal with death threats and being spat on. It shouldn’t require me to absorb more verbal abuse than a human being can realistically deal with.    read the whole article here.

This is unfortunate because it deals with some pretty fundamental values that allow us to be civil to one another.  What we have to offer one another when we blog is a personal passion.   An opinion.  Yes, it’s business and strategy as well, but blogging and new media has offered individuals to thrive in ways we could not thrive before.   An individuals voice can be heard with more reach than ever before.   It’s a gift we all share, this freedom.  A gift that can be accepted of denied, but should never be threatened to extinguish.


8 Comments so far

  1. Missy Caulk January 28th, 2009 5:13 am

    I hadn’t heard this, thanks for sharing. I think you said it best an unstable person.

    Prayers for Michaels safety and his family.

  2. Vicki Moore January 28th, 2009 12:17 pm

    I don’t know the whole story but it doesn’t really matter. This kind of behavior is ridiculous. We’re not running the country – we’re not trying to solve world problems. We’re bloggers for heaven’s sake.

  3. Dylan Darling January 28th, 2009 2:29 pm

    Wow, how does someone get this upset with a blogger? It just goes to show you how much the internet and blogging is changing our world. Everyone is out there for everyone else to see. Opinions are simply opinions, and no blogger should have to deal with this.

  4. Jay Thompson January 28th, 2009 5:26 pm

    I’ve never been a huge Arrington fan, he’s a little too arrogant for me personally. But for Pete’s, he’s still a human being and as such doesn’t deserve the treatment he discusses.

    “Blog wars”, physical and “verbal”/written attacks, and other such things that happen on a LOT of blogs are just stupid beyond belief and ultimately are a sign of weakness, immaturity and jealousy on the attacker’s part.

  5. Susan January 28th, 2009 7:54 pm

    I am very sorry to hear this story. I hope things have improved for Michael and his family.

  6. James Boyer January 29th, 2009 5:59 am

    Wow, I had not been reading his stuff, but all I can say is wow. How can people be like this nut who is leveling the threats? Better yet why can the police do nothing?

    I also hope that things get sorted out so that he and his family can get back to life as they knew it.

  7. Mark Eckenrode January 29th, 2009 8:41 am

    interesting that just the other day Jason Calacanis (runs now) sent out a similar letter. it’s a pretty damn good letter with a lot of value and an excellent supplement to this. unfortunately, i can’t find a posting online, it was sent via email.

    in it he explored some ideas on how the many people react to the virtual world as if it’s a game of Donkey Kong – the avatar next to you is simply a boss to defeat so you “advance” to the next level. when dealing with avatars and the myth of “followers/friends” some folks tend to lose humanity.

  8. Brad Coy January 31st, 2009 2:38 am

    Thanks for your comments.

    From Jason’s letter that Mark mentions:

    Today, we’re destroying each other with words, but teaching ourselves to objectify individuals and to identify with aggressors will result in more than psychological violence. This behavior will find its way into the real world, like it did when Wayne Forrester murdered his wife Emma over a change in her Facebook status, from married to single.

    It’s only a matter of time, sadly, until this loss of empathy will hit the real world. We’re training ourselves to destroy other people, and there’s a generation growing up with this in their DNA. They don’t remember a world when communications were primarily in the real world.

    The threats we’ve seen against women online are a warning sign of what’s to come–we’re all going to face this aggressive behavior and we’re all going to withdraw from these communication services.

    I’m 100% convinced that the trend in 2010 and forward will be people trying to remove their virtual presence on sites like Flickr, YouTube and Facebook. Already, I’ve noticed people are moving their settings to private–perhaps something they should have done from the start.

    What a shame, because there is so much gained from sharing.

    There are some great points in the letter but this may be a bit dramatic. Internet users just surpassed 1 billion last month, worldwide. My bet is that most everyone uses the Internet to communicate. Watching people (including myself) adapt to technologies in order to communicate has been fascinating. It’s something that is very natural as far as how we’re wired.

    A lack of empathy can be developed on, or offline. The social web is allowing people to be much more open. Maybe there will be a push back on that trend, but from what I can see with what’s happening with the generation coming up behind me, the world is going to have to learn how to be a much more tolerant, much more civil place.

    We now have this wide open view of the entire world from our homes. As much pure goodness can come from it more readily than evil, so long as it remains free from the constraints of censorship and authoritarian control.