I’m scared shitless of getting #metoo’ed. And it’s not an entirely irrational thought that this will happen.
Consider this: I talk to young women all day long. They’re my clients and fans on LinkedIn. They’re my friends, and my workmates. I’m a friendly guy who unabashedly let’s people know how I feel about them. I offer “compliment bombs” to people, not in an effort to manipulate, but in an effort to express my gratitude and joy for their existence. I find joy and inspiration in everyday interactions, and Expressing My Me is my go to way of being. I am already careful about a good number of things: never compliment looks, never use certain terms of endearment, never Be Creepy. This has served me well as nothing has happened to me…yet.
And I’m a public figure. I’ve talked ad nauseum about how that makes me fair game for tarnishing my name: “that Jon Tesser, he’s no good, he’s <XYZ>.”
All of this is a recipe for some young woman, somewhere, being “triggered” and “creeped out” by me despite my intentions to never cause harm. That someone will misconstrue my joy for their existence as an unwanted sexual advance.
Being #metoo’ed is the only thing that could truly destroy me. I’d lose my job, my friends, and worst of all my reputation. I’d have no defenses since in the court of public opinion I wouldn’t be believed. Sure, I could go the legal route but the damage would already be done. I’d be branded as the Old Creep and that would be it, the end.
Granted, if I were to go on a homophobic, anti-woman, racist rant, I’d probably be canceled too. But the odds of that happening are literally zero. I do have some beliefs about gender that I wouldn’t share with the internet since The Internet Doesn’t Do Subtle, but I have control over whether I choose to share those thoughts. The Liberal Left Moral Police have made it clear that expression of subtle dissenting opinion isn’t welcome, so I’ll reluctantly play by their rules since I gain nothing by sharing certain thoughts.
But I have less control over accusations of harassment. I can only control my own behavior, not the behavior of someone else. And this uncertainty of the unknown is what is driving me crazy.
This is really sad. I’ve helped literally thousands of young women gain more confidence in themselves, sparking joy in their life. I’ve helped them tackle job searches and imposter syndrome. I’ve encouraged young female rights warriors to keep going to help promote women’s issues. I’ve actively called out my alliance and Love for women publicly, particularly for lower income women of color. I have a wonderful group of female mentees who I work closely with through emotional issues. In other words, women’s issues have become my issues. And one accusation could ruin all of this good work. All unraveled because this is what the internet has become.
So what to do? I have two routes forward. One is to remove myself from the public eye so that accusations of Jon Tesser the Harrasser would have less sting. People wouldn’t know who I am, so public accusations of wrongdoing wouldn’t really do anything. Considering that I’ve vowed to continue forward producing content, I’ve decided to not pursue this route.
The second route is being more careful. Expressions of joy and gratitude will be curtailed. Humor will be employed less frequently. Vulnerabilities will not be shared as openly. I will create emotional distance in my interactions with young women. Who I choose to chat with over video will have a #metoo harassment calculator — do I feel like this person will call me out? Are they easily triggered? Life will be less joyous for me, but this is what must be done. Publicly I’ll be the same Jon Tesser, but private Jon Tesser will be more vanilla. Get ready for a more reserved me in the new year.