The Republic of T.

Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.

Somebodies, Nobodies & The Web As The Great Equalizer

I’m not sure I agree with this expert entirely, especially in this particular situation.

I think a lot of what Robert W. Fuller has written about “Somebodies and Nobodies,” and what he calls “rankism” applies here. In a sense, Kelly Blazek“pulled rank” on Diana Mekota. Blazek made it clear that she was a “somebody.” Mekota was a “nobody” who clearly “forgot her place,” and Blazek was too happy to put her back in it.

In fact, this wasn’t the first time Blazek “pulled rank.” There was an earlier exchange with a Rick Uldricks who asked to rejoin Blazek’s jobs list after being deleted  Blazek responded with an email that read in part:

“People are removed from my list for spamming me, for annoying me (you’re doing a great job), and perhaps you were removed on purpose…I suggest you sign up for the other job bank in town. Oh, guess what — there isn’t one. Done with this conversation, and you.”

Blazek, here, is clearly aware of her power as a gatekeeper, standing between job seekers and potential employers. She may have spent years building her professional network, but she appears to wield it capriciously. One time may be a fluke, or an “off day” that leads to an uncharacteristic response 

Blazek apologized to Uldricks, too. But it puts the most recent exchange in a different light. Twice begins to suggest a pattern of conduct. Perhaps it’s just that these are the only two that have gone public.

So, I’m not sure I agree with the expert that the best response is to just write it off, write her off as a “mean person,” and move on, because it doesn’t disrupt the pattern. Usually, “somebodies” don’t pay a price for treating others like “nobodies.” The reason is that those on the receiving end just accept it, “write it off,” and move on, because they don’t have the power to do anything about it. They’re “outranked,” and would have an uphill battle to make themselves heard.

In that sense, the internet can be something of an equalizer. Part of the reason that the young woman’s post of the response she got went viral is because so many people identified with her experience. A lot of people have probably had that same experience, and just had to accept it or “write it off” — in other words, take it and move on. Meanwhile the people dishing it out, go right on doing so, with no consequences.

The web has changed that, in some ways. Now, anyone can potentially have a far-reaching voice. If they have a compelling story to tell, they can reach millions of people, and bring about results that wouldn’t have been achievable before.

Mekota’s posting of Blazek’s response, exposing it to world, was a way of “breaking rank,” by breaking the silence about rank. Blazek, on the other hand, discovered that Mekota wasn’t necessarily a “nobody” she could “dis and dismiss” without consequence. 

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