Recently, @gillyberlin posted a link to an article up on engadget. It’s basically a rather boring (in the sense of „there are loads of articles like it online EVERYWHERE“) article covering stuff that happens at MWC (mobile world congress) 2013 in Barcelona. The text about the design philosophy at LG is actually pretty short because it’s actually the interview with Chul Bae Lee of LG what makes the post interesting. Wait. The interview actually is not that interesting, unless you’re into smartphones and stuff. What was way more interesting below in the comments. Unfortunately they seem to have been turned of while I was still thinking about writing this post so I can’t provide you with some of the “gems” hidden in the comments. But believe me, they were … how do you put this … not only heated but there was a ton of trolling, harassment and insulting going on because of…..*wait for it* …the person doing the interview. READ THAT TWICE. The author was not only laughed at but severely harassed because quite a number of people *felt* that the look of the author did not *fit* the event.
Are you fucking kidding me?
Let’s start with the obvious.
Personally, I think that the video is interesting and that the author asks interesting questions and the interviewee gives some nice answers, though I’m not really into all the hype that goes on at MWC and with all „latest, brightest, most special,…“-news stuff. You can discuss the questions and tone that the author uses in the interview and I’m sure that people who know more about that kind of journalism can give critical feedback on it.
Now on to the more interesting stuff: I think that the tech-scene and news sites covering tech are inherently superficial. That’s okay, it’s al about buzz, marketing, products, aesthetics and stuff.
The more interesting part.
I think it’s everybody’s FUCKING right to dress as they please unless they walk around naked. Okay, even that may be the okay, depending the circumstances, so it depends. Where do we draw the line? I suggest we apply the following questions :
- is the person violating a law?
- is the person **directly** insulting other people through his/her/…. clothing? (I’m thinking about shirts with insulting slogans on it)
- does the clothing transport some kind of political message? (wearing a SS-uniform would be one of the more obvious/ugly examples)
If the answer to one of these questions is a firm „yes“, an interviewer’s style and clothing may be subject of debates, though we should stick to acceptable forms of critique. If the answer is no, all critique boils down to one simple point: **individual taste**.
Old vs. new
I know that we don’t live in a happy-happy-joy-joy-world where everybody can dress on the job as she/he/… pleases, especial in rather conservative environments. I live in Germany for fuck’s sake, don’t tell me about it. But even in conservative German banks and insurance companies, things start to loosen a bit. You may have to negotiate stuff like piercings or tattoos but I recently talked to a tattooed, pierced accountant at my local bank. He was wearing suit and tie and was extremely „well kept“. So maybe that was some kind of deal, who knows. Anyway, back the article.
The comments really gave me the creeps. No, not the trolls, who cares about them anyway. It was the „you have to dress adequately“ talk that gave me the creeps. It told me how quite a number of commenters think about how people in the tech scene who do interviews should look like. We live in 2013 and even in the „we are all so open minded and globally connected“-crowd, the same rules still apply: You are what you wear. You have to blend in. Please don’t have any rough edges.
This makes me sad. It really does. It’s obvious for everybody who has thought about this kind of stuff for more than 10 seconds, yet, it still renders me speechless. I think that in this special case, maybe Myriam was „too much“ for many people. She’s a woman. She’s openly queer. Her style is not their style. But that’s not the point. It simply should not matter. She may be a „challenge“ to some, but if these parts of her personality offends people, it’s their own problem, not her’s. Maybe I demand too much, but I still demand it: if the look of a person makes you feel uncomfortable, if you don’t like it, apply the three questions above. If you answer them with “NO”, it’s you who has a problem. Period.
This text does not provide any new insights. It’s stating obvious things that have been said before. So why take the time and write this post?
It’s because I wanted to say THANKS to Myriam (@tnkgrl) for her work and for bringing more color to the tech scene. It’s because I often get “the look” myself. I was offered a job at an otherwise interesting IT company back in 2008 with the hint that I would have to cut my hair short and stop wearing piercings. I declined that offer. It’s because I started talking in front of developers 3 years ago and still have to force myself to not wear suit and tie during my talks to blend in. It’s because so many people tell stories of how *tolerant* the tech scene is and how looks don’t matter anymore. They still do. It’s because it may sound trivial that a snarky „your hair cut is interesting“ can hurt. In most cases it doesn’t but sometimes it does. Maybe she/he/… does not do tattoos to get attention, has a a mohawk to convey something,… maybe it’s just because the person feels comfortable like that and likes oneself that way better than in dressing like all the others?!