Telling Your Side of the Story
I watched with some fascination as the story of Derek Powazek's departure from 8020 Publishing unfolded. Basically, Derek and Paul hit an impasse and Derek left the company. Of course, that simplifies things greatly and leaves out much (if not all) of the subtlety of the debate.
This raises a slew of questions and ones that I don't think I have the answer for. Should this debate have been aired publicly? Should any grievance be aired publicly?
Every story has two sides. Correction, every story has as many sides as there are people telling the story. But is anything to be gained by sharing the story to everybody?
Stopping the rumours
The largest reason most people want to share their side of the story is simply to stop the rumours (or prevent them from starting in the first place). However, as we saw in the "Derek vs 8020" situation, only hearing one side of the story doesn't stop the rumours — it redirects them. Especially in a case where the other side comes out looking bad, it makes people choose sides. And that's a very dangerous situation to create.
People can be stubborn, too. Once they've formed an opinion, especially one that seems almost universally shared, it's much harder to sway them.
Of course, as human nature, we want to stand up for ourselves if we feel we've been slighted. We defend if we feel attacked.
But is it better to keep quiet? Or should we always respond? In the case of 8020, Paul Cloutier, the CEO of 8020, remained fairly quiet and even when a response did come, it was a much more subdued response not offering much in the way of filling in the pieces of the story. Some felt he took the high ground while most felt he was high-handed. People expect that all should have been laid out on the table. Present all the facts and let the people decide.
Can't win them all
It's unfortunate but sometimes it's a lose-lose situation. Damned if you do and damned if you don't. And with the elephant that is the internet, it never forgets. The memory will fade slightly, overpowered by newer and more interesting fodder but it'll still be there. Before we act, we have to consider our words carefully and really look at all sides as honestly and clearly as we can.