Drop the Badge

Networks, associations, friendships, alliances – they sure do have some interesting dynamics, don’t they? In a way, they’re largely reflective of intrinsic human values and desires. People want to connect; they want to communicate. Me? I’m all for it, but time and again, I see groups adopting and defending values and beliefs with a fervor that seems to defy both reason and logic (sometimes tangible evidence, too). If you’ve been reading my site for any length of time, then by now you’re probably wondering why the hell I’m waxing philosophic all of the sudden. Well…

Today, I got booted from the 9rules network

That’s right, I’ve been asked to remove the 9rules badge from pearsonified.com. As far as I know, I’m the first to be removed from the network on emotional grounds (girlspoke was removed because they feature sexually explicit content). I know certain folks are going to claim that I was dismissed because of an affiliation with another network, but this argument doesn’t hold any water because:

  • This site is not and has not been affiliated with any networks other than 9rules
  • I have worked with Erati Media, which isn’t even a real company, but I never associated this site with them. I was linked from the homepage as a friend of that network, but let’s face it – link love is something we’re all after. Let’s get one thing straight, though – a link is nothing more than a link, and I did not have sex with Miss Lewinsky
  • I am friends with Cowboy, the guy who started Jack of All Blogs. Cowboy and Scrivs, the CEO of 9rules, have had some bad blood flowing since December, and I believe that my association with him is likely the biggest reason behind my dismissal. There are other factors, too, and I’ll elaborate on those below.

For a few weeks now, I’ve been writing on Jack of All Blogs under the pseudonym “The Deuce.” Originally, I began contributing there simply to have some more fun with the written word – you know, to be a little more edgy than I am here. I feel as though content sometimes needs to be compartmentalized based on the context of a particular site (gee, that sounds like 9rules), so it was nice to be able to play a character role over on JOAB. In practice, Sidekick (another contributor at JOAB) and I had some pretty intelligent and entertaining exchanges while Cowboy was AWOL, so if you enjoy edgy humor with plenty of controversial undertones, go check that out. If you’re a family member of mine or somebody who can’t deal with stuff that’s rated R, do yourself a favor and don’t go over there. After all, the intent of this post is to be honest with my readers, and I don’t want to hold anything back from them.

Anyway, The Deuce never said anything negative or derogatory about the 9rules network – not on JOAB, and not in the comments of any other site. He did, however, spout off about a former writer at Erati. The comment was inappropriate, and I’ve already apologized about that little faux pas over on Tyme’s site, Not Too Geeky. If you haven’t already done so, please read through the comments on that post. If you can sift through the garbage that some of the network sheep were throwing around, you’ll see that I basically had to defend myself against a variety of questions, most notably from Mike Rundle. To his credit, I think he’s actually a really nice guy. In this case, however, I think he was a bit emotional, and he didn’t do his homework as thoroughly as I did (well, considering I wrote all material from “The Deuce,” I ought to know my stuff, right?). Here’s a sampling of our conversation:

Chris, it’s difficult to accept that as your true feelings considering you say such nasty and attacking things on Jack of All Blogs under your pseudonym “The Deuce”.

Chris is a member of 9rules, however after learning about his new association and attacking demeanor, we will have to rethink his membership.

The truth is, I never said ANY nasty or attacking things on JOAB (go ahead, read it!), and I accepted responsibility for the one comment that could have been taken as such (which I won’t link to here – it was really lewd, that’s all). I only made the comment because I was provoked in a very pointed (not to mention factually incorrect) fashion.

The experience was rewarding in some ways, but bit players, the 9rules sheep if you will, spoiled the party. Here’s a sampling of the crap that was slung at me during the course of the debate…

Chris – I think everyone is thinking right now that if you were loyal to 9rules, you wouldn’t be writing for a site that has so little respect for the network you are in.

It doesn’t matter that “you” didn’t say anything. It’s your association.

Cowboy’s opinion is Cowboy’s opinion. I don’t agree with everything he says because I’m not a damn sheep. I say my thing; he says his. Just because I’m his friend doesn’t mean I’m going to follow him to the ends of the earth. According to this sheep, I should temper all of my actions and choices based on my affiliation with a network. Last time I checked, this may be something you do for a sponsor, but for a network? Sheep, meet “the way the world works.” World, meet sheep.

Personally, I think you forefeit a quality that allows certain individuals to rise to greatness when you adopt a group’s set of beliefs and then run around enforcing them on dissenters. I’m sure this is a line that will draw a lot of attention in the comments, but the way the sheep reacted to this whole situation reminds me quite vividly of religious fanaticism. It’s a curious thing to behold, to be sure…

I actually appreciated speaking with Mike about things, because at least it was thought provoking and forced me to be accountable to an audience. Moreover, I am proud of the way I defended myself in a room full of people who would blindly take sides with 9rules regardless of the dispute. This is, however, a natural facet of group dynamics – you have your shepherds, and you have your sheep. I’m not a sheep, and I’m not really a shepherd. I damn sure won’t work for you (in a boss-employee context), and I don’t care to work above you, either. I’ll work with you all day long as a peer, so long as there’s mutual respect and understanding of what each party brings to the table. Although I’ve never really thought about it in this way before, this is precisely why I am no longer a part of the 9rules network. I tried out fraternities in college, only to come to the same conclusion that I’ve come to regarding group dynamics on the web. This is also why I’m not a fan of organized religion, because I think some people just take it too far.

The bottom line is that I am an indie, and there’s no sense in denying it or trying to place myself or my work in a different context. This is natural for me; this is where I belong. As much as the sheep won’t like it, I’ll still be heard.

Finally, I’d like to extend my heartfelt thanks to my steady readers who’ve been along for the ride thus far, and I want you to know that absolutely nothing will change around here as result of all this. Also, I want to thank my good friends Brian, David, and Matt for their support and counsel through this. For anyone else out there who’s interested, I’ll see you at SXSW! Peace!