I have spent the last week debating as to whether I would throw my hat into this arena. Enough people have voiced their concerns over the matter, and I honestly didn’t feel like you needed to read yet another article. But amongst the articles that I have read, I feel that there is a core component to the whole issue with unwanted sexual advances, comments, or behavior at a convention. Common respect for your peers. I mean is it really that difficult to treat a person decently? Please note that I am referring to all people at the convention, not just women.
For crying out loud, most of us were on the receiving end of all sorts of harassment growing up with our predisposition for technology, Science Fiction, games, and all other sorts of geeky/nerdy things. Why would we want to give that back to people who are supposed to be our peers? I don’t know about you, but I sure didn’t enjoy the comments that were made about me. As those who have met me will attest, I am a small guy. I’m in my 30s but I look like I’m in my early 20s. So you can imagine how I looked when I was 15 to 18. The vitriol that I received was nothing more than a person’s desire to assert their dominance over me because I 1.) looked young 2.) was nonathletic and 3.) was a geek.
I am sure that there are many other people in our industry that have experienced similar things. The point of this is the old adage: “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all”. You are entitled to your opinions. You are entitled to your belief system. You are entitled to think that I’m a complete idiot. But, if you lack the intellectual capacity to be respectful to other people then perhaps you need someone to help you in those social gatherings.
//Queue cheesy Infomercial Music
This is why I am releasing the new APT! The Appropriate Person Toolkit. When you start using this toolkit, you choose a personal assistant who will walk around at conventions with you while you engage in social situations. The moment you say anything disrespectful to another person, this person will slap you upside the back of the head and then offer an apology to the person whom you offended; blaming the comment you made on your lack of social interaction experience. They will then escort you away and then coach you on the proper way to interact with that person.
There are several types of assistants you can choose from: 1.) ones who slap you on the back of the head 2.) ones who hit you with a baseball bat 3.) ones who poke you in the eye and the list goes on! They say that pain is a great way to instill personal behavior change. As you cause emotional pain with your words or actions, it’s only fitting that pain is used to change your behavior.
//Back to reality
In all seriousness, if you know you can’t control yourself when you drink, or you can’t help but be a complete idiot around people, then perhaps having a wingman or wingwoman will help you out in those situations. Treat people with respect. You’d be amazed at how much better your conference going experience will be if you do that one simple thing. Most of the people I’ve met at these conferences are good, awesome people who deserve your respect. Don’t be the person who is labeled the jerk, creep, or other colorful terminology because you failed to interact appropriately with someone. “If you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all.”