When friendship and leadership collide


I have been saddened to see the continued support from prominent leaders for a protestant pastor who failed to protect children who were sexully abused. His failure to lead by reporting this predator (and maybe others) to authorities led to more children being sexually abused in other parts of the country. His actions and inactions have destroyed many lives.

Yet, his well respected friends in leadership positions say he is being maligned and falsely accused. With court testimony and written testimony from dozens of witnesses you would think they couldn’t really be saying this, but they are. This is leadership malpractice.

I have wondered why they are doing this, themselves failing to do the right thing. I think it comes down to this: he seems like a nice guy and he’s their friend. They’ll make sure he has a position and that his books get published. “We’re here for you buddy.” I feel physically ill as I think about this. I have written to the publisher, but don’t expect a reply.

You can be someone’s friend who has screwed up. You can listen, encourage them to make it right, etc. When a friend has destroyed lives, though, you can’t make those consequences go away be trying to cover-up the cover-up. When someone has disqualified themselves for leadership and ministry, you should not yourself commit leadership malpractice by propping them up. This leads to bitterness, distrust and cynicism by the very people you have a duty to protect and serve. It needs to stop.

Online behaviors can reveal obsessive tendencies


 I sometimes  come across commenters and bloggers on the internet and my training is psychology causes little alarm bells to go off. With commenters people can just “trolls,” but other times there is something else going on. Such is the case with someone who goes by the username “A-Thought.” He joined an Apple news and enthusiasts site about 18 months ago and constantly promotes his Microsoft Surface Pro while criticizing Apple iPads. He has posted hundreds of times, and many of his posts are quite lengthy.

“A-Thought” would insist that his behavior is intellectually based, that he is just serving as a counter-point of information. In reality, most counselors and psychologists would quickly label this behavior “obsessive.” It is obvious he obsessively checks the Apple-centric site and quickly posts derogatory comments about Apple iPads while pointing out the virtues of his Surface Pro 4. He is often the first commenter on news stories that are posted about the Apple iPad.

When someone is dealing with obsessions and compulsions, or both (OCD), it is not a pleasant life. Psychologists describe this disorder as the mind that won’t quit. Activities such as excessively monitoring web sites and posting essentially the same information over and over again help relieve the anxiety that a person experiences. The time and attention given to these obsessions and compulsions usually interfere with the person’s life and relationships.

There are online resources that can help people like “A-thought.” The Anxiety and Depression Association of America is one place to start: http://www.adaa.org.

Never assume your presentation tech is going to work


I watched painfully a few weeks ago as a workshop presenter struggled with getting her laptop to connect with the conference hotel’s projector. For whatever reason, it never connected despite two different tech support people helping her. As about 50 people in the audience watched, she opened up her college email, emailed the presentation to herself, shut down her computer, opened up the loaner laptop brought in by tech support, signed into her email, downloaded the presentation, and opened it in PowerPoint. Half of the workshop was over and the presenter was very flustered to say the least.

While I felt sorry for the presenter, in some ways I did not. Despite giving a presentation on technology (I’m not joking here), she forgot one of the first rules of technology and presentations: the technology might not work. The presenter was not someone doing her first workshop, she was a veteran. She should have known better.

You should always assume your technology will not work when you are scheduled to do a presentation. How can you be prepared for this? I like to have my presentation in three locations: on my laptop, on a USB drive, and in the cloud. Since my laptop is a Macbook Pro and I use Keynote, the file I have on the USB drive is a PowerPoint copy. My cloud copy is on Microsoft Office online or Google Drive. If all this fails, I am mentally prepared to move ahead quickly using just my notes.

Wanting to show video clips is always great, but has the potential for even more issues. I prefer to have the video downloaded into my laptop and embedded in the presentation, but follow the same scheme as with the presentation. Personally, I have found Google Drive to be the best place to keep the backup copies of my video clips.

If all of this seems like overkill, perhaps you have not had the experience of struggling to get your tech to work while 50 or 100 people staring at you. If you have had that experience, you know it is one you want to avoid repeating for any reason.

The psychology of rude commenters on technology news and information sites


I often read technology news and blogs and occasionally wander over to the comments section to see people’s real world experiences. You are always confronted with caustic comments that regularly include profanity aimed at the writers, those who choose the technology or service, and others who have posted.

Why would anyone read an article about a product or service they may have never used, then leave some off-topic caustic comment? While we might never know because they are almost always anonymous, psychologists can make some guesses based on patterns of this rude and socially deviant behavior.

Disappointment with where they are in life is the underlying cause. Naturally, they would protest and say, “No, I’m not.” Deep down, however, there is a burning dissatisfaction with how they are treated in real life, the position they hold in society, their salaries, and lack of recognition. They often feel they are disrespected, which is largely imaginary, but real to them nonetheless.

Displacement is taking out your anger or frustration on a non-threatening target. Tech writers, who are perceived as knowing less than they do, are a favorite target. The comments about female tech writers are particularly abusive. Other targets might include commenters who remind them of their dad or boss.

Often you will see wholesale attacks on entire user groups such as those who use Macs. Probably, the “vile executive who keeps putting me down” uses a Mac, so all the millions of people who use one are just like him. Or, the “rich girl at college who wouldn’t give me the time of day” used a Mac, so all Mac users are like her. Remember, this is not intellectual, this is emotional. Emotions are often messy and often don’t make any sense to outside observers.

Should we ignore them? Absolutely. Bitter people rarely become better people, so leave them to their own misery. They have grown attached to it.