A couple days ago, in the security blog I write as part of my day job, I did a post about folks in the security community who consider themselves curmudgeons. As expected, some folks passionately disagree.
I knew when I wrote it some people were going to be pissed off. That’s how it is when you write an opinion piece: You’re inevitably pissing in someone’s bowl of Wheaties.
I don’t do it to tear people down. But when I think we could all be doing something better, I’m going to say it. People will rage at me in return and that’s OK. I respect that.
I also readily admit that what I write isn’t THE RIGHT ANSWER. It’s simply how I feel about something after being immersed in the culture and details for an extended period of time. My take is my take, and I’ve gotten it wrong on occasion.
That’s why I welcome feedback, however negative it might be. That’s how we learn: Different sides present a viewpoint and the truth usually lies somewhere in the middle. The subject of security curmudgeons is no different.
And I feel the same way with the stuff I write about personal struggles in this blog.
After 17 years in journalism, I like to tell people I’ve developed a thick skin. And I have in one sense, because back in the day, I would never take issue with someone’s specific viewpoint or lifestyle for fear that my targets would come back and tear me to pieces, either physically or in public writing.
But in another sense, my skin is as thin as it was the first day I ever walked into a newsroom.
I’ll take on an issue, but sometimes I’ll be terrified of the response. The big fear is that someone will come back with an overwhelming, ironclad stack of evidence that I’m merely a misguided idiot who has no idea what he’s talking about.
But somewhere along the way, I realized that to truly bring something to the table and contribute to my industry and society as a whole, I have to occasionally risk pissing people off and getting it back in heavy doses. So I do.
When doing so, my biggest fear is that I’m going to hit too hard and leave someone deeply hurt. I don’t ever want to make anyone feel worthless.
If I’ve learned anything in battling my own demons, it’s that we’re all a little or a lot broken. We all shoot our mouths off and say stupid things sometimes. We all hurt each other along the way, and we can all be better.
When writing the curmudgeon post, a point I tried to make but probably failed at is that we all have our justifications for approaching our professions cynically from time to time, and there’s a time and a place to get our more negative views across. But at some point we have to evolve and take it to the next level. If we’re going to talk about why something sucks, we should move on to talking about how we’re going to make it suck less.
I know of at least one person who was personally insulted by my post. She vows to write a response and it will no doubt nail me to the wall. I’ll respect that.
Whatever comes of that, I just want her to know that I don’t think she should go away, which she has threatened to do in the past. I just think she should take her act to the next level. Rage is an emotion that has it’s place. But too much of it will burn a person down to nothing.
Nobody wins when that happens.