Thursday, December 28, 2006

Bite your lip

Over the Christmas period there have been many re-runs and screenings of old favourites. One such was the 'Back to the Future' trilogy. For its day it was a technical tour de force, but also, deep down, was a message in there.

The main protagonist, Marty McFly, is a decent, passionate, short hothead, who just can't back down. Within the mighty Junkk organisation is one such: me. I can't stand hypocrisy, rudeness, cheating, incompetence... plus a load of other stuff. More than this, it frustrates me to see such unfair and/or inefficient manifestations get let alone to spread and prosper. Especially when levelled by bullies at those less able to defend themselves. So I weigh in.

I'd like to think I do so with humour and civility, but the fact is, where a lot of friends and colleagues say 'drop it', I just can't. The words of Pastor Martin Neimoller ring too loud in my mind to commit another oft quoted sin of omission: 'Evil only prevails when good men [it was pre-PC]... guys... do nothing'.

But in the same way my kids are told not to lie, but White ones/fibs are OK for the right reasons, I think I have to get a grading system in place and learn to restrain myself on occasion to end up with a better result.

The problem is I like to debate and, frankly, win. In writing. And especially when I feel I am right or, more nobly, when the other party is wrong and an attempt needs to be made to correct them in the hope of avoiding repetition.

But just as Marty McFly eventually discovers that there are only losers all round when you race with those who don't know when to back off, so must I.

I think I'm learning. I really wanted to make the BBC minions explain with to sincerity to a senior person in their organisation who could hurt their careers how they understood why using a monolithic entity and its reputation and its resources to threaten a legitimate, lone questioner was not really on. But I decided to leave that one at the non-apology and move on.

I really wanted to take apart the obsessive poster on the SKY Big idea website, who with each blow by humour and logic I inflicted, came back with ever more irrational and extreme versions of 'bring it on', like some manic Black Knight from Monty Python's Holy Grail. But I realised it had got to a point where it was moving this person to a dark place, and serving my/our interests no purpose any more. I'm hoping their threats and abuse as the last post will serve as suitable epitaph to any who read it.

And so I was this morning going to reach for the keyboard and reply to the replies of a few disgruntled new 'registrants' who seemed unable to to accept that they had been unnecessarily cruel, critical and/or not very thorough (though we must at Junkk accept a failing for still not getting our instructions and warnings clearly enough labelled), and my post (adapted to an FAQ we sent to them) was a sincere attempt at generic explanation but also a plea for understanding. But I did not. They are few, and as is the way have taken precious time away from the many who either coped, didn't mind, didn't see a problem or simply managed, and are now quietly working with us.

The shame of it is that these guys cared enough to write, and often had valid points or suggestions.

But boy, when someone calls it 'whinging' when the simple answer to the 'ridiculous, anti-American... [insert further rant here] postcode registration system' accusation is that we can't afford to pay for the US (or any other) system yet, and simply ask they pop in a UK one for now, it's hard not to wish to point out just how many unpleasant words they used in their email, how many clear online instructions and explanations they chose to ignore to get so wound up, and how it is so simple just to live in the bitter world they prefer to inhabit and leave the rest of us to get on and share info and even critiques in a pleasant and mutually rewarding way.

But I bit my lip.