Open Letter to Cathryn Sloane

Hold Back Time, Plate 2
Hold Back Time, Plate 2 by Thomas Hawk

Well, it’s pretty much over now.

The rain of negativity landed upon you.

I don’t care whether your post is right or wrong about the best age for community managers. The vitriol expressed by many of the dissenting voices in comments and responses was reprehensible.

Some have been measured in tone, but generally you received a crash course in negative commenting and personal attacks.

See how nasty people can be when they hide behind a keyboard? Don’t be mad, many of these attackers felt threatened by your theory.

I’d like to tell you the real world is better, but it’s not. No matter what you do, you’ll experience periodic nastiness.

You’ll also meet great people who go out of their way to make you successful. There will be people who won’t finger wag, and will let you learn on your own. They can see your mistakes as the normal course of a young person gaining experience.

Perhaps you’ll have the benefit of a great rival or three, people who contend your positions, but do so eloquently and engage you in meaningful, growth-producing dialogue.

When negative threatening moments happen online, people arrive at a crossroads.

Some folks leave like Kathy Sierra. I can’t blame her given what she went through.

Others just suffer through it. Some toughen up and move on regardless, brushing off the nastiness with little thought. Personally, I’m getting to the latter stage, but it took a long time.

Whatever you do, I hope you’ll stay online, continue taking risks, and learn as you go. The great moments far outweigh the negative ones.

Besides, on or offline there will always be challenges. The winners get up, and keep moving forward.

Good luck with your online career in community management… Or wherever the road takes you next.

(Special thanks to Ifdy Perez for inspiring this letter.)