With everything going on in the US these days with discrimination still running wild, with hate crimes and violent crimes happening at alarming rates, with leaders that increasingly seem to care only about themselves and filling the coffers of the 1%, with bigotry and hate-speech becoming commonplace, and with what feels like an ever-increasing sense of selfishness and ever decreasing sense of selflessness, I suppose it’s only natural that there’s some bleed-over of those things into other areas of life…like our #SQLFamily and our #SQLCommunity.
If you’re plugged into our community through Twitter, Facebook, the blogosphere, etc., then you’re probably quite familiar with the repeating cycle we seem to go through as we jump from one dramatic social crisis or hot-button issue to the next, blazing a trail of fire, accusations, slurs and offensive language, and disrespect along the way. I guess that’s to be expected, but that doesn’t make it right. It concerns me…a lot, and it has me asking some tough questions of myself and of our community, and taking a hard look at my involvement and affiliation with it all.
Have we lost our focus as a community? Have we forgotten that this community was founded on principles or helping, supporting, and uplifting each other? Have we become too accustomed to and perhaps jaded or spoiled by our successes? Have we forgotten to treat each other like human beings, with dignity, kindness, and respect… like real people, with real problems (both personal and professional), and perhaps most importantly, with real feelings that can be hurt.
Where do we draw the line between having constructive discussions about hard-hitting issues and being just plain mean, rude, hateful, attacking, inflammatory, slanderous, or offensive? Can we find a balance that lets us be considerate and respectful about what we say and how we say it without being afraid to talk about important things and to stand up for what we feel passionately about? How do we stay true to ourselves, our brands, our voices, our beliefs, and our feelings without trampling on those of others?
Like I said, these are tough questions, and I don’t have answers to most of them. I don’t expect things to get better overnight or even to improve because of this blog post. Part of my reason for writing this is to vent some of my worries and frustrations with what our community is becoming and how we (all of us…myself included at times) are behaving. The other reason I write this is in hopes that at least one person out there will read it and will ask themselves these same questions. I don’t know that I even care what their answers are, really. I just care that they spend some time thinking about these things and evaluating whether they’re moving in the direction they want to be, behaving the way they want others to behave, and coming into this with the right motivations, whatever those may be.
After all, we’re all adults here. We’re better than this, and we know it. We’ve achieved some great things together, and I know we can achieve even greater things together in the future, but we need to stay focused to do it. We need to focus on our community and its goals and mission and on what each of us can bring to the table to help us all grow and learn and improve. We need to reevaluate what is important to us. We need to reevaluate our behaviours and our interactions with others. We need to redefine our core purpose and our core beliefs as a community (even if that just means restating them as they are already), and then we need to focus on living by that purpose and those beliefs. Let’s try not to get distracted by the drama, by the pettiness, by the personalities, by the politics, by all of the things that take us away from helping each other. You see, it’s by helping each other grow that we grow the most ourselves.
I love you, #SQLFamily, really, I do. I think of many of you as close friends and even as part of my extended family. For me, SQL Saturdays and the PASS Summit are like a vacation, a family reunion, and a chance to geek out all rolled into one. Many of you have been mentors to me throughout the years, and I’ve had the privilege of being a mentor to several others as well. That is what makes this community great. That is what drew me in originally, and it’s what keeps me coming back. That is what we need to stay focused on and passionate about. Let’s draw the line here. Let’s make a stand, and let’s make a difference. Let’s start treating others with respect again. Let’s focus back on helping others. Let’s focus on building up our community instead of tearing it down.