Ellen Pao Probably Needs a Hug

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Nobody deserves this. The mud-slinging on Reddit speaks greater volumes about the difficulty of Pao’s job than her competency at it.

I think everyone should have the media perform a hatchet job on them at least once. You get this horrible helpless feeling when you know you’re trying to be honest and do the right thing, but you see how easy it is for a journalist to cast everything you do as corrupt and destructive. And how quick everyone is to believe them. And how attempts to set the record straight are met with further attacks and greater outrage. And the smallest piece of dirt snowballs until it gets to the point where it doesn’t even matter what the accusation is or whether it makes sense.

Ellen Pao joined Reddit in 2013. She became interim CEO at the end of last year when Yishan Wong abruptly resigned. Last week, Reddit admin Victoria Taylor was fired, igniting a #RedditRevolt. Ellen Pao didn’t do that. That was the work of Executive Chair and co-founder Alexis Ohanian, who detachedly pulled out the popcorn as riots erupted.

kn0thing is the username of co-founder Alexis Ohanian
kn0thing is the username of co-founder Alexis Ohanian

To be fair, Ellen Pao was the CEO, even if only for a few months. And Pao had already made herself into a controversial figure with the Kleiner Perkins lawsuit. But Ohanian didn’t suffer any death threats or rape threats or Nazi allegations. Nor did he receive images of his face photoshopped onto porn.

Public scandals are fairly predictable. People express outrage because they’re afraid of losing social status. Call it herd mentality. As long as the masses express outrage at the current public enemy, they maintain status. Great work Redditors, you successfully asserted your social superiority over Ellen Pao.

By next week, the media will have a fresh whipping boy to hate on, Ellen Pao will have dropped from public consciousness, and Redditors will go back to making fun of fat people and minorities. This too shall pass.

And to Alexis Ohanian: Fuck you.

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