Monthly Archives: November 2013

Communication Dynamics in the Online Community

social.media_If you know me or you have kept up with my old relationship blog,  you know I make mention of communication quite often. I believe it is the heart and soul of any relationship from friendship to marriage.  Today, our need for instant gratification through the Internet, cellular phones and other media outlets has in my opinion both stymied and accelerated our use of communication. As with anything else, advancements come with a price and in the age of Facebook, Twitter and Global news outlets pushing feeds to your phone, that price has often been lack of research in favor of pushing information to the masses quickly.

Communication within relationships has not escaped this trend. You do not have to look hard to find someone on your Facebook news-feed complaining about their boyfriend or girlfriend or asking advice for a situation concerning their marriage. In other cases all out arguments are taking place in cyberspace. In my opinion this is no more acceptable than opening up all the windows and doors in your house and having a knock-down-drag-out fight with your spouse. It is not classy and it is a terrible way to seek attention.

What gives?

So what has caused this uptrend in open air arguments on the world’s public websites? I believe at least part of the responsibility goes to the ease in which we are able to access Social Media. Twenty years ago, we were forced to “think about it “. We did not know our significant other was out at the club with his or her friends until someone called us on the wall phone or we found out through the grapevine. When we found they had been lying to us about their whereabouts, we could not just pick up the iPad and immediately splatter Facebook with anger and hate over the deceit. We had time to think about it, time to prepare our argument and in that time we also naturally cooled down which allowed us to think more rationally. Today we simply pick up our smart phone, iDevice, log onto a computer or text a friend instantly. No time to think about our response, no time to rationalize what we will say. In this, we have become children, un-thinking in our words, lashing out with knee-jerk reactions to situations that might otherwise be handled like adults.

Facebook Official

Another area where communication utterly fails is in courting. If you don’t know what “courting” means, you should look it up. When I was nineteen I had a crush on a girl within my group of friends. I didn’t have her phone number, there were no cell phones, text messages, Facebook or Twitter. Instead, I talked to her friends, found out where she worked and asked her out while she was checking out customers at the grocery store. In person. Face to face. We spent time with each other and we talked on the phone; the kind that screwed into a wall or sat on a table with a cord attached. When we had an argument and one of us hung up as teenagers do, I couldn’t text her to apologize, I couldn’t run to Twitter to spew 160 characters of anger. I had to wait until the next day. When we were “going steady” it was official because we decided it was, not because my relationship status changed on Facebook. Social Media, online dating, etc has become the go-to for beginning and ending romances with the unfortunate consequence of pushing courting to the curb.

Growing up Connected

Our teenagers have grown up with the internet and most do not have any concept of life without instant access. This is not necessarily a bad thing but it does change the social dynamic  quite a bit. Our kids no longer have to gather in the library together to study. They do it online. They no longer get together after school to hang out and gossip. All of this happens online and at times with tragic consequences. Bullying has bled out of the hallways and lunchrooms and into the chat room and more importantly, into the private bedrooms and living rooms of the victims. Where once bullying lived in the lunchroom where faculty and friends could witness and thereby stop or offer support, it has now been relegated to the victim’s private computer where parents might go unaware until tragedy strikes. It is absolutely the duty of every parent to understand what their kids are doing online until which time said child is recognized as developed enough to deal with the everyday pressures of the online community. The internet is not a babysitter and should never be used as one.

What can be done?

Our instant everything way of life isn’t going away, so what can we do to adapt? This is where communication must alter. There are extreme measures people have gone to such as swearing off social media. This won’t work for everyone. Open communication is still my favorite reprisal when someone comes to me for relationship advice. I’ve made plenty of mistakes both online and offline and I don’t consider myself an authority on relationships but for whatever reason, my friends are drawn to me with questions of “what to do”. Some of the advice I have given follows.

  • Talk. In person. – Body language and eye contact can never be replaced with text messages and Facebook statuses. The quality of conversation in person is drastically altered when you are making eye contact with someone you have an issue with.
  • Be understanding of a snap reaction. – They called you out online. In front of your friends and theirs. You are mad and your gut reaction is to retaliate. Online. Instead, contact them and ask them to speak to you over the phone or in person. There is absolutely no need to air the dispute in a public forum. Your friends do not need to be put in the awkward position of taking sides. If they refuse requests to talk in private and insist on using social media, perhaps it’s time to consider whether this person is mature enough to be in your life. Delete the status. If it persists, it’s time to block them until they cool down or come to you to discuss.
  • Don’t end relationships online if you can help it. – If it’s time to part ways with a friend or significant other and they are willing to speak with you offline, it is your duty to extend them the respect of communication. No one likes to wonder “why”. There are extenuating circumstances to this of course and you’ll make the judgement on those.
  • Plan “disconnects” – Something that some of my friends do from time to time is get together for dinner and when we sit down we place our phones in a pile in the middle of the table. The first one to pick their phone up gets the check. This can be done in a variety of ways and if you are dealing with social media issues involving your kids it can be something you do at home. You’ll be surprised at the amount of conversation spawned when everyone isn’t nose deep in their phones.
  • Utilize your online time to build offline relationships. – Social media, forums and chat rooms are amazing ways to meet people  and cultivate friendships, dating relationships, etc but they are nothing without face to face interaction. Get your online friends together for a meet and greet and get to know them offline.

There are many ways to positively utilize our online presence. The online community, just like any big city, has it’s beautiful parks and dark alleys. Navigating them in a way that brings the most positive experience to your life is something that only you can do. Trial and error are your friends here and finding your comfort zone between your online life and your offline reality can be tricky but it is achievable.

Playing at Platonic

Platonic love is a type of love that is chaste and non-sexual. The term is named after Plato, who philosophized about the nature of love. Platonic love in this original sense of the term is examined in Plato’s dialogue the Symposium, which has as its topic the subject of love or Eros generally. It explains the possibilities of how the feeling of love began and how it has evolved—both sexually and non-sexually.      -Plato

But does it work?

PlatoIn my experience, yes.. with some dedication and no… when one or the other parties is unwilling to work for it. Platonic relationships between men and women, women and women or men and men (Because this is 2013 folks and I’m not exactly the close minded type!)  are often fraught with hidden feelings, agendas, guilt, jealousy and  other complicated emotions. They can also be huge sources of joy if both parties are of a mind to work for them.

I have more female friends then male friends. I grew up in an all female house and I’m extremely in touch with my feminine side (I can also hunt you down and make you cry if you make fun of me for it!). While I do not relate better to women over men, or understand them any better then anyone else, there are just common female personality traits that I gravitate toward. In the same arena, the males I consider close are usually of like mind in that they are strong but compassionate which incidently are two traits I adore in women.

Below I’ll cite some personal examples from my own  life  that will cover successes, failures and everything in between concerning platonic relationships.

Names have been changed to protect the innocent… or guilty… 🙂


Ann deals with a damaged friendship due to a one way (mine) attraction. When I met Ann I was immediately taken with her physical beauty especially her eyes and quaint smile. I knew nothing else of her but as I got to know her, I was attracted to her personality, both the strength she outwardly showed and the confusion, insecurity and delicacy she revealed as we grew close. I was there for Ann during a rough time in her life and my motives were those of someone trying to get a person they loved through a tumultuous patch. Ann and I spoke daily, we hung out sometimes every night. Time moved on and Ann let loose, finally enjoying life. On one of these occasions we ended up in an intimate situation. I could lie and blame it on the alcohol but I knew that I was and had been attracted to her for as long as we had known each other. Ann wasn’t incredible in bed, I wasn’t seduced by her sexuality, I just simply enjoyed her in every way, intellectually, physically, emotionally. Post intimacy, I became attached and she built walls. We went quite some time without talking but eventually broke down some of the walls. We would talk, but not nearly on the level we had. What had been daily talks now were weekly or monthly. Only when Ann had imbibed too much and happened to be in my presence would she say something that lead me to believe that some part of her wanted to be with me but was afraid to act on it. Otherwise, once the haze lifted she would all but run at my mention of giving dating a shot. Later in our friendship, I believe Ann began to resent me or even take me for granted and only called me when she needed something.  More recently Ann and I have only spoken a few times a year. While no rift currently separates us, the damage of my constant attraction and little mentions of “what we could be” simply drove her to the point of lessening communication.  Ann also has an extremely difficult time communicating openly about personal things.  In the time since, I realize that we would be a terrible match for each other and have no interest in dating her, but, the damage has been done and she will always wonder if I’m harboring a desire for her.  Painful as it might be to have lost someone who I care worlds for, I have no one to blame but myself. I leaned an encyclopedia’s amount about platonic relationships from Ann.leo


Danielle. What can I say. Danielle is by far the most complicated yet simple story in this post. Anyone who knows me will know exactly who I’m talking about name change or not. Danielle and I have been “something or another” for going on half our lives. We “sort-of-but-not-really-dated” in our teens. Became friends after many years of silence and then support systems while both of us were going through hell in our lives. Danielle is an example of a truly platonic relationship that has been built on a foundation of love, anger, mis-communication, adoration, history, understanding and many things in between. A simpler way to say this would be “we just get it”. Danielle and I don’t always communicate well, we’ve hurt each other, we’ve used each-other,  but we have also unconditionally loved each other; we have been there for the worst and the best. Many platonic relationships burn hot and fade fast but Danielle and I did it differently. We burned hot, doused all flame until the cinders were cold, started another fire, stamped it out and from those old coals a simmering flame rose up to what we are now which is true platonic friends. I don’t usually have trouble finding the words but I do when it comes to explaining the friendship between Danielle and I. As I mentioned earlier, we “just get it”. For all intensive purposes we shouldn’t be friends. Our views on many things are completely misalligned. Danielle is a devout Christian and I side with a nature based religion. On some of the biggest topics, we disagree. We have had endless debates on everything you can think of, been through ten times the attraction confusion mentioned in “Ann” above, fought, argued, nitpicked, snapped and yet she still invited me to her marriage to a man to whom when she began dating, took the time to explain that our friendship was important to her and that it wouldn’t go away. Danielle and I may not always agree, but we do have an enormous amount of mutual respect. We may not always communicate well but when the big things hit, we tackle them. When the big hurts enter our lives, we know we can turn to one another for support or a shoulder or just someone to say “do you believe this @#$#%!?” At the end of the day, Danielle and I fought for this friendship because we both discovered how precious it is. That was all it took.scorp


Michelle deals with a long platonic relationship that has been everything from “friends with benefits” to “curl up in a ball and cry your eyes out”.  Michelle and I have known each other for longer than either of us care to admit. One thing we (mostly) do well is open communication. We have fought, yelled, laughed, been through hell in our lives and depended on one another for spiritual support. We have hurt each other and loved each other. What has saved us in each instance, be it the awkwardness of the morning after while in our teens or the fight brought on because of jealous lovers was communication. Maybe it took a day or a week or even months but we always came back to the table to hash it out. For this reason, this open communication, Michelle is still part of my life and I am part of hers.leo


Finally there’s Noelle. Noelle and I started off dating and when that ended became close friends. I live by a rule when it comes to dating. “There was attraction to begin with, why ignore that if the dating part doesn’t work out”. In a few less words, I try to stay friends with those I have dated. This is not easy for a lot of people because jealousy can set in. Thankfully, I truly believe that unless something terrible tore you apart, there is no reason not to give friendship a try.  I’ve been mostly successful at it. Noelle and I are “buddies”, we share some of the same group of friends. This group of friends is one I feel most connected to. They are honest and caring folks, smart and hip. Noelle and I went almost directly from dating to friendship. There was no “take-a-break” space. She actually met another guy due to us dating. They’ve been happily married awhile now and I am great friends with both of them. This is the way it should be in my book. After our initial End Of Dating, there was some pain, there were some sad moments but we came through it quickly. We are so comfortable (or well, ok, I am), that we can joke about our past as dating partners which is fun (for me at least) when we get together with people who have known us awhile but didn’t know we dated. We got along well when we dated and we get along well as friends. The only difference between our dating relationship and our friendship is the now non-existent intimacy… Except when she and her husband group attack me on their couch.sag

Parting Thoughts

The few examples above are just a sampling of the amount of platonic friendships I have had. Most started out as friends and continue as friends. I have not posted an example of those above because those are more common and you probably have a few yourself. The hard ones, the ones where you have to fight for it are worth talking about. At the end of the day, I believe both people have to want to remain friends through thick and thin. It’s an investment and sometimes it will only be a one-way investment; Ann is an example of this. She doesn’t invest much in our friendship whereas I invest quite a bit. You have to be ok with that completely. You can’t come back later and say “she uses me” unless you end it with “and I allow it because I want to”. You also cannot hope they will come around and realize how great a friend you are. Some people will and some won’t and that is just how it goes. If you are strong enough and willing enough to continue a platonic friendship through some of the more complicated obstacles, it can be quite a rewarding relationship.

Why I’m not on the PS4 train… yet.

ps4-250x250On Friday at midnight, Sony launched it’s PS4 gaming console to droves of people waiting in lines all over the US. I was not one of them and as news pours in from new owners, I’m happy I didn’t pitch a tent at my local Game Stop.

I’ve been a fan of the PlayStation since it’s inception. I’m not a hardcore gamer like many of my friends but I enjoy an occasional game and I really love the PS3’s ability to be a media center.

Initial Release Jitters

There are throngs of people who follow the line of thinking which states: “Never buy the first year model of a new car line”. The idea around this is that “new things” including cars (and gaming consoles) are rushed to market without a thorough quality assurance test. While this may or may not be true in some, or all instances, the theory does hold some water. The news has already reported several issues regarding the PS4 and there are others to be found in comments on Amazon, etc.

Blue Light of Death

To be fair, it seems so far that the  “Blue Light of Death” is affecting only a handful of people. However, in the age of instant everything, a handful can start the ball rolling with unprecedented speed. Within a few days of release, Sony released a troubleshooting guide which includes the old stand by of “reboot it”. No word on whether the issue is user-serviceable or something that will have to be fixed by Sony.

Taking the media out of the media center

These days, everything from TV’s to phones have the ability to stream content, be it music or video. My Television, AppleTV, Phone, iPad, and my PS3 can all stream video and music from various places to my TV.

Why then did Sony take out the support for MP3 and DLNA (Streaming Video) on the PS4? Sony says it was “shocked by the passionate response” from people who learned that DLNA and MP3 was no longer supported. For the non-geeks out there let me quickly explain. DLNA is a protocol that allows you to stream video from a server on your local network. For example, I have a server which has hundreds of movies I’ve ripped from my personal Blu-Ray and DVD collection. If I want to watch something, I simply power up my PS3, look through the categories I set up and choose a movie. Simple as that. The movie streams from my little server and life is good. This was not included in the PS4, it is the biggest reason why I opted out of the pre-order and I’m not alone according to the masses. Sony says it will include it at some point and was surprised at the number of people who canceled pre-orders so I expect they will be adding it soon.

No more free online play

The one thing the PS3 always had over the XBox was that there was no charge for online play. For me this is big because I don’t game enough to justify paying a monthly fee for the “privilege” of using my own internet connection but the games I do play are all online with other live people all over the world. I’m also technical enough to know that Sony uses none, or very little of it’s infrastructure to host online gaming. When you boot up your Battlefield 4 or any other number of online games, you are connected to a central server. In the case of BF4, a server owned by EA Games. Where is Sony’s chip in this? No where except the development code that allows you a point-to-point connection to EA’s server. It’s pure profit. Long before consoles went online, we were playing first person shooters with our friends across the city without a monthly charge. Going back to the BF4 example, the PC based version still plays online without a charge.

Other things that might matter to you

There are a few other things that might sway decisions on whether to purchase a PS4.

  • No backward compatibility. This makes sense to me as a developer and would drive the price up but might influence a decision if you had hoped to play your PS3 games on the PS4
  • In order to stand vertical, you’ll need to buy a stand (available in December). This might not be a big deal to you but to an OCD guy like me, it matters. 🙂
  • It doesn’t support 4K. If you don’t know what this means, it probably doesn’t matter to you.
  • No wireless stereo headset support.

The Good, the Bad, The Ugly – A sum of all things

The good: The PS4 is a great offering for the gamer willing to pay for online play. The new Dualshock4 controllers are supposed to be superb and are getting amazing reviews. The PS4 is more “PC Like” as opposed to the PS3’s cell processor technology which was a PITA for game developers. Sony is embracing the Indie game designers and allowing their titles to be played without too much drama. It’s powerful. It’s pretty.

The bad: The online pay-to-play reminds us that the PS4 comes from a super-corporation who’s goal is to make money. The lack of DLNA and MP3 support along with the “shocked” response from Sony tells me that little R&D into the community was done.

The Ugly: So far the only “ugly” is the the Blue Light of Death. If I’d waited hours in line, I’d be upset too. The potential negative press from issues like this could drive down sales but in reality probably will have little effect as long as more issues don’t crop up.




Miley’s tongue

344-rolling-stones-tongue-vector-freeWhy is a nearly 40-year-old-man posting about Miley’s Cyrus’ tongue you ask? It’s a valid question, read on!

If you have kids or even if you don’t, you are probably familiar with Miley’s “tongue face” from her recent press coverage. While reading Rolling Stone recently, I came across this little article which explains why she sticks out her tongue for pictures and *shocker*, I can relate.

Excuses, Excuses…

I’ve been interested in photography since the eighth grade and a somewhat professional photographer since I figured out I could make a little spending money on it. For as long as I can remember, I’ve heard people yelling over a camera at me; “Kevin, stop using your fake smile!” and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been replying with “This is why I stay BEHIND the camera !”  –   I can’t smile. I just can’t. It’s awkward and more often then not I just end up making a funny face instead of trying to “smile for the camera”. It’s not that I DON’T smile. I do. Often. It’s just that as soon as someone sticks a camera in my face, I start over-compensating because I know I don’t have a good “photo smile”. I never spent time in the mirror perfecting my smile. I have to smile with my lips and face because my teeth are completely jacked up due to a bad chain of events (being corrected slowly but surely). The result is often a sneer or even a look of anger or boredom. I have figured out a few “smiles” that work for me which are not really smiles at all.

Do as I say, not as I do.

As a “somewhat professional” photographer, I often have to give advice to kids, models, clients, etc on what to do with their hands, arms and of course their faces. Being someone who has trouble smiling, this might seem ironic. Some of the worst offenders of the “fake smile” are kids. This is understandable to me because an awkward kid is exactly what I feel like when someone sticks a camera in my face. Adults have issues too as not all of us are blessed with that movie-star-grin. An old friend of mine who I’ve shot as a boudoir model, mom model and family model has the fake smile syndrome too. In her boudoir work I usually showcased her lines rather than straight on face shots because she, like myself, just goes completely jelly when faced with a camera. (She is now a photographer as well and probably deals with the same thing!) – Her natural smile is absolutely radiant but as soon as someone sticks a camera in her face…

Over the years, I’ve figured out a few ways to get subjects to relax and smile naturally on set (some of these work for me as well.)

  • Breathe through your nose. People of the females persuasion rarely have issues with this but we mouth-breathing-males spend a lot of time neglecting our nose for breathing. This also keeps your cheeks against your cheek bones which helps with your smile.
  • Set your shoulders back. In these days of computer chairs and terrible posture, people are used to being slumped over. Keep your back straight and your face and neck will follow.
  • Jut out your chin very slightly. This pulls the skin of your neck and jaw tight and makes your smile look more natural. You see all those pre-teen girls taking bathroom mirror shots on Facebook from an angle above them? This is why, it makes the face look slimmer and lips more prominent
  • Keep your lips moisturized. Chapped lips draw attention away from your smile and even after airbrushing, don’t look as natural as moisturized lips.
  • Don’t tense your jaw. I have this habit. It makes you look uncomfortable and angry.

There are many other little tricks I’ve come across or heard from other PhotoG’s but these are the most useful I’ve found that work. At the end of the day, the more relaxed you are during a shoot, the better the finished product will be. Photographers and Photo Editors are magicians with camera and software but we cannot make you look comfortable if you just aren’t!


Biting your own neck

LittleLionMancolorI’ve been on a Mumford & Sons kick as of late. I’m a bit of a vinyl geek and have worn out their freshman album, “Sigh No More”. I ordered “Babel” from Amazon and it’s currently sitting in my mailbox to be claimed after work but I’ve been listening to the “AutoRip” since I bought it. (Amazon is great like that if you buy vinyl from them).

One of the most well known songs on “Sign No More” is “Little Lion Man” which (in my opinion) tells the story of a bold man falling and realizes he isn’t all he believes himself to be.

I’ve listened to this song countless times and one line has always stood out:

“Now learn from your mother or else spend your days biting your own neck.”

As a man raised almost exclusively by a woman, this has always hit home with me. To me this statement has always meant that one should learn from their elders while they can or spend the rest of their lives running in circles lost for knowledge. The guys over at rock tend to agree:

“As we know, a mother lion will carry her cub by the neck when he is young. If you don’t learn from your mother, you will be forever doomed to think of yourself as a child and even act like one.” –

I learned a lot from my mother growing up but I didn’t actually know I had learned anything until I was much older. This is a common cycle I’m certain and one repeated through the ages. I had dinner with my mother last night which is always a good time. I really do not see her often enough and as I mentioned in a previous post I’ve come to terms with the fact that she is not going to outlive me. For a couple months now I’ve been coming up with a bucket list of items I’d like to ask her, do with her, etc. Some of them include:

  • Sit down with her and let her tell her story from childhood, to teens, to meeting my dad and after he passed, etc. I was there for some of it but I know there are stories I haven’t heard.
  • Travel to Chicago with her to visit her friends from youth and listen to their stories.
  • Travel out of this country with her. She’s left the US once that I know of, on her honeymoon.
  • Do several photo shoots of her in studio, out of studio, I don’t care.
  • Watch her adore my soon to be niece and her soon to be grand-daughter.
  • Have her watch me get the tattoo I have planned in her honor.
  • Take her for a night on the town to a jazz or blues club.
  • Have her cheer for me at my first half and full marathon.

There are more and some of these are extremely possible. Others are whimsical desires that her health may make impossible at some point. My mother is still strong and I get much of both my physical and mental strength from her but she isn’t the thirty-something I vividly remember twisting her ankle while jumping to spike a volleyball at a block party.

There is another song that sometimes comes to mind when I have to tell her “I’m too busy”; “Cats in the Cradle”. The difference is, my mother always DID have time for my sister and I. Even after my father passed and she had to work full time, she always made time. I have let my career and other selfish desires get in the way of spending time with the woman who gave me life. Part of this was my refusal to believe she wasn’t immortal. This must change.

Breaking up… With my employer

keep-calm-and-leave-your-jobLeaving a job you are comfortable with can be one of the most gut wrenching decisions of your life.

Currently I am a week into my two weeks notice for a company I’ve worked for the last (nearly) five years. The decision to leave did not come as easily as it has in the past. I’m older than I was, I’m more comfortable with being comfortable. My career, like many these days is in the technology field. People like myself are known for “job jumping” and when I was younger, staying at a company a few months or a year was fine but as I hit my late twenties, the desire for stability outweighed the desire to make a few more bucks.

I’m a different study when it comes to careers. There are many others like me but we aren’t *extremely* common. I did not go to college and I rely on my considerable experience, references and resume. The fact that my forte is in a niche area of IT and in fairly high demand helps as well. In a few less words, I am extremely lucky to have had the turn of events happen in my life that propelled me into what I do now.  While at one time in my life this might have made my head grow, these days I’m simply thankful for the abilities I have. For these reasons and others not mentioned here, the decision to leave my latest employer was one fraught with indecision, weighing of possible outcomes and straight up fear. On the other hand, it has also instilled a renewed sense of purpose, the attraction of new challenges and a sense of child-like exploration.

The company I am leaving is one I love dearly. Long after I’m gone, many things I created, designed or built will live on. The history I have here is one filled with memories of a smaller company growing quickly into a larger one. The challenges and the fun that go along with this will be something I take with me when I walk out the door for the last time. Would I come back? Absolutely. I’ve never said that about a company but the people and the environment here changed my perception of “no second chances”. Perhaps age and wisdom have something to do with it as well.

So how did I know it was time to go? This question is different for everyone no matter the career they call home. For some it’s a gradual procession of decision making, for others it’s a culmination of small events and one in particular “breaks the camels back”. I find myself to be a little of both. I’ve been asked my reasons for leaving by my peers and I’ve answered in a way that gives them enough information but not all sides. This isn’t out of mis-trust or anything of the sort but rather because there was no “last straw”. Instead, a turn of events beginning just over a year ago sub-consiciouly began pushing my path toward a final exit.

Some of my peers expressed shock that I was leaving. Some were not surprised at all. Some acted shocked while privately not being shocked. Some asked why, some asked where but most just said good luck when my notice was made public. The “why” was the most common and I’ll try to explain without too much delving into what my career consists of.

Until about a year ago I was a happy Engineer in a happy team. A team with the exception of myself, that has had no turn-over for six years. I worked with (and continue to work with for another week) some of the best minds I have met in my field. At times our personalities have clashed as happens with people trying to achieve the same thing in different ways. All in all things ran smoothly within the team. A new director was hired, we will call him Stan, away from another company and I took to him immediately, even traveled with him. He hired others from his embattled previous employer including the director who I began reporting to.  This particular person, we will call him Clint, was in many ways the polar opposite of his good friend Stan whom he reported to. Immediately our entire team began complaining to each-other about Clint but had no one to turn to because of the friendship and history between Stan and Clint. So we endured. Not long after I began reporting to Clint, there was an episode in his office. Myself and another engineer were talking about some issue. It was obvious that Clint was extremely frustrated. Clint’s frustration was in my opinion born of the fact that he was not at all technical and that he was getting pressure from above to resolve this issue. Clint is a big man, tall, broad and with a deep and rumbling voice which he uses to “command” his team. Clint is also quite a chameleon in that he can act like he understands something when he has absolutely no idea what is being talked about. This personality trait did not fool our team but I’m sure he has used it to rise among the ranks to where he is today. So Clint stood up and loomed over his desk at me. Clint raised his voice and began yelling in my face. I’m an A Type personality to the core, the other engineer is more B Type. The only person I’ll allow to scream in my face in such a fashion is my mother who bore me and deserves to vent on me when needed.

I do something strange in situations like this. I become very calm. I annotate my words precisely. When I was younger, other kids called it “scary quiet”. I quietly explained the Clint had two choices. One was to sit down, lower his tone and resume the conversation calmly. The other was to have me go around the corner to HR and have them mediate. He chose to calm down. You might be cheering me, you might think I won but that is not the case. From that moment on, Clint did not like me much. He was level to me, he was professional but I suspect behind the scenes was a different story. Actually I know it was. Since I gave my notice I’ve found out some interesting things about what Clint thought of me and how open he was about it to other directors and VP’s including Stan. I had been there years before Clint and I still had my network of people in all ranks.

Shortly after the argument, Stan pulled me in his office to offer me a promotion. Stan had always been good to me at least in person. He “took care” of our team when he first got there. As he moved quickly up the ranks, he had less time for us specifically but that is to be expected. I was offered a “promotion” to another team. This was a year ago and somehow I knew this promotion would be then end of my time at the company. Stan congratulated me and said he understood the transition would take some time. At first there was no change except the pay raise but change was coming.

Just after the promotion a catastrophe hit one of our databases. One I knew the most about. I took charge, directing those on my team to do this or that. I felt like I was contributing and I felt like my team was stepping up to a huge challenge with grace. Senior people in the company including the owner were on the conference calls. We came through it with no data loss. I got calls from people I didn’t even know knew who I was thanking me. One man in particular who had a ton of sway in the company shook my hand in person and thanked me. I felt like I had shined. I felt like my team had shined.

Regular work resumed, most of it dealing with the failure and how to be better prepared for it. This took most of the rest of the year until this past summer.

I regale all of this so you might understand events leading to my departure. Late in the summer I was finally moved from reporting to Clint and put under another director. He was extremely hands off. I was on his team for months before he even acknowledged me much less met with me to discuss strategy. Meanwhile I kept helping out with what I had always done. No one complained but Clint started directing his team, my old team, to keep me away from as much as possible in order to continue the transition track. This was expected. What was not expected was an argument that would be the final nail in my coffin.

Shawn and I had worked together since the beginning. He and I had not only dug trenches but worked in them. As the only two people specializing in what we did within the company, we worked non-stop. Shawn was and is the best engineer I have ever worked with. As part of my transition to my new role I was tasked with writing documentation about all the things I’d worked on, developed, scripted, built and completed over the years. Due to how thin our team was stretched there wasn’t always time for docs. Things had calmed down and it was time. I began writing docs in a Wiki application. One day I got in early after a tough morning at the vet with one of my dogs who had eaten a bottle of Tylenol. I had also been dealing with some health issues, had surgery and was just having a generally bad time of things at that moment. I wrote for a couple hours, not saving my work in the Wiki too often. Shawn jumped into a doc I was writing and added some comments of things that needed to be added. Somewhere along the line the doc got destroyed and the last save had been hours before. I was upset. There was too much going on in my head that had nothing to do with work. I ran over to find Shawn and found him in Clint’s office. I asked him to come to my desk as soon as possible. He came over and I was upset. To make a long story short it escalated in front of his team as Shawn had recently been made a manager over the team I had left.He refused to discuss it and an hour later I was called into my director’s office. I was about to have the most in depth talk with my new director then I had ever had in the time I’d worked for him. To put it lightly he was extremely hands off. He told me that Shawn and his entire team were upset with me, that they had told Clint I was impossible to work with. They even dredged up a misunderstanding I had with another team member months before to which the other team member, realizing his mistake, apologized to me. All of this was coming from Clint as Shawn reported to Clint. I felt betrayed by the team I had helped build, had mentored and for the first time, a team in my career I cared about. My director told me this could go to HR. All I could think about was that over the years, Shawn and my ideologies had clashed over things but we were always able to settle it and move on. This time I thought, he went directly to Clint. This argument happened on a Friday and I was so full of anxiety that I drove to the office on Sunday to make sure my badge still worked. I threw up several times that weekend. Monday came and went and no one came to walk me out. Shawn was still not talking to me and wouldn’t until a week after I gave my notice.

I started looking for a new position out of the fear of repercussions from what I thought was a mild argument. Apparently I was the only one who thought it was mild but no one would come talk to me about it. I was an island. As the week came and went I heard things from people including my director that had nothing to do with the argument but added to my anxiety and cemented my decision to leave. This was a terribly difficult decision but I felt like my back was against a wall. I loved this company but I couldn’t talk to anyone about the issues. My director didn’t want to talk about it. I couldn’t talk to Clint and Shawn wasn’t speaking to me. On top of this, the role I was promoted to turned out to not be the role I was sold the year before. According to my director the path for this team had “changed overnight without and forewarning from the powers that be”. I found out some other interesting things about my new team that in addition to the argument pushed me over the edge and into LinkedIn to start the job hunting process.

I found several opportunities  pretty quickly. Interviewed and on Halloween day gave my two weeks notice. My director wasn’t surprised, after all he had said that if I thought I wouldn’t like what the team was now to become, he would understand if I started looking. As I mentioned earlier, some expressed shock some didn’t but the ones who acted shocked but were not, like Clint, were the most interesting. He emailed me to “ask if it was true” a couple days later but I knew he had found out moments after I gave notice. Shawn sent me a text message asking as well but I ignored it. He IM’d me a week later and asked again and I simply said yes. Then he said he wanted to clear the air. I had expected this, Shawn wasn’t one who liked rifts with people he knew. I replied with “There is nothing to clear” but he persisted. We spoke on many things that hour. He genuinely seemed shocked that I was leaving but I don’t understand how he could be. I spoke level, not bringing up the fact that our argument and the ensuing anxiety was the straw that broke the camels back. We ended the conversation in good spirits.

I’ve probably given more detail then needed and if you’ve made it this far I congratulate you. With a week left before I begin my new assignment, the anxiety that always rears it’s head in situations like this has cropped up. “Will this be a good fit”, “Will I make a good impression”, etc. These are things only time will answer. I leave the company I’ve worked for the past five years with mixed feelings. Certainly there are a ton of great memories. There is also the undeniable mark I myself and the team I loved made on the company. There were triumphs to celebrate and failures to learn from. I take away a berth of knowledge that I didn’t have when I came on board. For this and the friendships I made, I am grateful.