Life goes on as usual but parts of it go down the history. Last week was one such part of my life. I am still recovering from it in many ways. My unusually non-boring life became all the more interesting with a string of events between 8 Apr and 15 Apr 2022.
I was winding up all activities, social media, handovers and more so that I can care for Vidhur at the earliest. As I was working towards things, a post popped on my LinkedIn feed from Mona. The post shook me.
Initially I thought it was a social rant. A second look at it showed it was much more than a rant. Mona showcased many parts of the story to the world in 18 part series. She was relentless about it. Kudos to her ⚡️(Keeping at it must have been hard given the trauma she was going through). The story sent shockwaves to the women product community globally.
I didn't bother much in the beginning and as some unempathetic comments started popping in the comments section and slowly Mona's voice was getting lost in the noise of internet, I wanted to show my support and stand up for Mona (and many other silent voices out there). I didn't want to stop at thank you for sharing and CFBR (commenting for better reach) but wanted to REALLY support. There is a thin line between the two.
Someone who has 77K followers can crush someone who has 4k followers in the internet. It is a numbers game. Mona was already traumatised by the events and on top of that the world was expecting some great storytelling from her end. I couldn't take away the trauma but I could atleast help her with the storytelling.
She didn't ask for anything and this is not the time to bother her with details. I just did what I felt is right. I felt our product community will be a better place if we weed out such nonsense. As a mother of two and as a product women, I could empathise with what Mona was going through.
Human mind is funny. It keeps comparing small lines with big lines and brushes away the seeming small lines. In events like this there is no bloodshed, physical harm and cruel death like Nirbhaya case but in such events there is heartache, overwhelm, helplessness, mental trauma and toxicity. It is hard to put in words and hence such events die silently and perpetrators take advantage. I have heard many silent cries in my life so I decided to do my bit.
I wrote a post tagging woman leaders who can take the voice far and wide here. As someone from the product world, I am very well aware of how we design systems at scale. I expected mine and Mona's profile to be blocked as spam using bots and followers. Artificial intelligence will not know what is the real deal.
As I expected Mona's profile went down the drain. Thank god a little time was spent to put together her posts in a document. You can take a look at it here. A document was not good enough as it had bits and pieces but the whole story was not coming through. I didn't expect Mona to sit and wordsmith this shit. I took it upon me to put together a website to share the TL;DR version with the world. That is how the change.org petition came about. Thanks to all the supporting voices on the internet, today morning we reached 700+ signatures.
As a user experience designer, I know how hard it is on the cognition of a normal human mind, when so much information gets blasted. So we decided to bring in ease in consuming the story. That is how the website was put togther.
As Mona's profile went down and my profile was on the brim, I had to do something for others to take the baton and keep going. So I wrote one last post tagging the most important people of the internet here. It generated 100k+ views and the voice was heard far and wide.
That evening Mona's profile was restored and our community was overjoyed. We whole heartedly welcomed her back. It certainly was a small win.
The next morning the world heard the strong stance of Airtribe and our support for the community here ✨
As a community we will continue to spread the awareness of internet toxicity and restore mental health of many.
My friends, standing up for someone/something was not easy. The risk was real. For eg: Our Google Workspace domain (www.xperian.xyz) is marked as spam and all our emails are going to spam (we will fix it slowly). I would have lost my LinkedIn account with all recommendations, connections, followers and more. The issue was so serious that I had to take time off from work and from kids to get the momentum going. I had to file complaints in cybercrime so that I can ask Google and LinkedIn to restore our company accounts. Phew! what an ordeal it was.
I must say, this week is also the most gratifying week of my life. The pain was so worth it. We ended up showing the other side of internet influencers to the world and saved some heartache and mental agony of 1000s of innocent hearts and minds.
Personally I truly understood what assertiveness really meant. Beleive me, it was hard to be non-emotional, sensible, rational and yet taking a stance. Expressing feelings constructively and focusing more on action and not on the person was hard. I gained a lot of perspectives this week. Above all I gained a new set of friends on the internet including Mona and that was priceless.
Finally Mona is back on LinkedIn and the awareness is spreading. Now it is time to attend to kids and get ready for the next roller coaster ride ahead of me. If you care about those silent voices out there, please spread the awareness.
This story was too important to not share with you all. Though small, this is significant to go down the history ✨
🥂 to standing up!