I am leaving the organization of the Decentralized Internet & Privacy devroom and will not return for the 2020 edition to escape aggression. It is not a very combative attitude but this is who I am. I run away from toxic environments.
At the end of a talk, when I kindly asked the speakers to leave the stage to the next talk, I was aggressively ordered by the one of the speaker to not interrupt. It caught me by surprise and I did not reply, letting them finish. They finished after the next talk was supposed to begin, long after their talk was supposed to be over.
To not end one a negative note, I rushed out of the room to thank the speakers and apologize for the technical problems (the video projector was not working). I figured it played a role in the aggressive tone of voice and the overtime.
I could not finish my first sentence when I was again aggressively talked to by the same speaker who accused me of pushing their bag on my way out. They immediately turned their back on me and joined a group of friends a few feet away. I went to them and said it was not ok to talk to me so aggressively. They briefly turned to me and replied: “I don’t want to talk to you”. And then a person from their group came between us and told me: “They don’t want to talk to you, leave them alone”. I protested that it was a coordinated verbal aggression and that it was wrong. And I left, overwhelmed by the toxicity of this behavior.
There is no excuse for such a verbal aggression and I considered going to the FOSDEM organizers to report it. But I did not, which made me realize what it takes for people victim of abuse to ask for help (and this was not even physical or recurring). Instead I shared my feelings with a few people who know what it means for a conversation to be private. Much to my surprise, one of them shared my words with the speakers who behaved aggressively towards me. This violation of privacy decided me not to return in 2020.
I deliberately do not name anyone, it would not help in any way.
In a few months I’ll write about all the wonderful things that happened during FOSDEM and how proud and privileged I am to have worked with so many people to make the Decentralized Internet & Privacy devroom a reality in 2019. Right now I’ll focus on the best medicine I know to forget aggression: coding
P.S. I am closing this topic. It is a statement on my part, not an invitation to a discussion or comments.