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Rewriting history – Replacing “us vs. them” with “those, who hate CS”?

When the OpenCS campaigns were published, the Leadership Circle had to face the fact, that ignorance wasn’t working this time. While some “followers of the true Couchsurfing spirit” (i. e. Mikky, Donna, Naz) were doing the dirt work of insulting the main protagonist of OpenCS in public, the Leadership Circle constructed an “us vs. them” legend, give some marketing bloats to the users and tried to avoid every real communication. The result was the resign of many volunteers. Surprisingly more than the Leadership Circle expected.

OpenCS became a lost cause and as a result the campaigners themselves failt to fullfill their own requirements. It was never meant as a clear frontline against someone, but more or less the “discussions” end up in the “us vs. them” logic. The Leadership Circle strategy of keeping more or less quiet and as a result lacking a place for a discussion makes it worse: users at brainstorm began to feel annoyed about the same issues again and again in nearly every thread. In the meantime, forced by deeply personal disappointments, injuries and feeling betrayed, the reference war started. But leaving each other negative references not only symbolized the edge between “us” and “them” very well, it was also bad PR for OpenCS at all, even if the Leadership Circle answered in the same way (and Casey himself started to remove friendlinks).

Then things began to change again: Kasper – listening to the advice of others – made the brave step to remove the bad references (something I could not appreciate enough). This – supported by some apologies – changed the situation at brainstorm a bit. Additionally some new people at brainstorm have begun to ask questions. With the same result as ever: not much answers, even if this is from time to time hidden behind a lot of words. But the tone is different this time:
no more “us vs. them”, what means at least a form of dispute, no, now some people are adressed as “those few who hate CS”.

Who is that? A small group planning to destroy CS out of pure hate against CS as such? More conspiracy theories, please! Do I hate CS? Don’t expect me to answer this question, but maybe I should create a group “those who _really_ hate CS” (no worries: I won’t do it really. Like the “Goovy is an arsehole and we know it”-group). Seems all in all more a reason to laugh out loud than to worry. But the problem is: The Leadership is rewriting history here. If there are no answers or alternatives, the ideas of OpenCS will disappear more or less completely. The “usual supects” will end up as couchterrorists, who tried to destroy the happyhappy couchsurfing family, but failed thanks to the good and visionary leaders.

I claim the right of my own history. Remember, this is the digital age: history written on paper rolls by winners only is history itself.

PS: Didn’t I mention “The little leninist’s cookbook” before? One very important task is to define the own opinion as a majority and every critics as a small minority. Don’t worry about real numbers, it’s just important to say so. A perfect historical example about this can be found with the keywords Menshevik (from russian the Russian word for minority) and Bolshevik (from russian the Russian word for majority).
PPS: Nonviolent communication is not a good concept for people who don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that non-communication is probably one of the most violent forms of communication at all.

8 Responses to “Rewriting history – Replacing “us vs. them” with “those, who hate CS”?”

  • “Nonviolent communication is not a good concept for people who don’t understand (or don’t want to understand) that non-communication is probably one of the most violent forms of communication at all.” – Mmh… very interesting thought.

  • Yes, i was struck by that quote too, Torsten. Deep insight there, full-on reality!! Midsch, excellent post.

    Probably some of you have seen i am posting like crazy lately on Brainstorm – that’s because i’m about to withdraw from CS and work primarily on a global nonprofit whose aim is to benefit the world, and not at all through hospitality networks (yes, *shock* hospitality isn’t everything).

    so to answer your implicit request for ‘what should the strategy be now?’ – personally i am going mostly into observer mode. CS has chosen a path, if they don’t correct it at least enough to apologize to Anu – and hopefully issue an explicit apology to those volunteers who worked hard and then were marginalized – then, well, i would guess we will be observing repetitive problems. To me, an apology would go a long way, but then i was not one of the injured parties.

    I think the best people can do is … be neutral (non-emotional) and fair in postings. Hold the Leaders accountable to the values they’ve written down and are claiming. I care about the network and I’ll make the obvious suggestion or two if no one else does. Bottomline – always behave with integrity and truth, practive clear communication, learn the lessons (I have learned so much about pitfalls of human nature in organizations… not fun but useful!) and apply them to what we go on to do.

    It may be that CS Leaders’ lack of integrity will turn out to have beneficial effects in releasing everyone to work on positive projects – now with far better knowledge of how to work together and what makes an organization really work. For me, that includes NOT damaging the people working with you. In what i’m going off to do, having the org be beneficial for all individuals is a priority – and CS has confirmed to me how important that is.

    Aside from that.. how about if we begin sharing our knowledge and insights on some additional topics where our expertise can benefit each other?

    all the best and hugs,

  • Hi all,

    thanks for all the nice things said here and elsewhere (Finns easily blush when being praised etc so *blush* :) . Despite appearances, I’m not horribly sad or angry (anymore) – just am finally taking the steps to truly let go and move on (and frankly also a bit worn out of all the traveling in the past 3 months – it was good to put faces on the text though ;)

    There was a time when all I needed was a simple apology, and admitting of SOME mishandling of the situation (back in Nelson) at least, but that didn’t happen (I asked for it in oh-so-many words, listened very carefully for any sincere attempt to say these things but didn’t get it). So anything that may or most likely may not be said right now doesn’t really matter anymore – too little too late, and at least “they” don’t have to wonder my reasons for not being happy-go-lucky volunteer for CS anymore. (although I would still be curious to hear the REAL reasons for certain nominations, the confusing argumentation for it just isn’t enough for me)

    Even though some people advised me to “not cause trouble” upon my departure, I feel it’s in best for someone at least to be open about things I personally found bothering, so that people sharing values similar to mine at least have a chance to be informed of what they’re getting themselves into, to be able to make their own conclusions and choices.

    I fully intend to write up the part of CS history I was personally involved with, as this will serve both as a personal closure for the situation and a lesson learned for any of my (our?) future engagements. Anyone care to help?

  • Hmmmmm. This post reminds me of V for Vendetta…I donno. for some strange reason.

    But hey: proof that web2.0 is what we make of it. It can be both a liberating to for many or another tool to crush dissent and keep the few in power.

    Thought: I remember people attacking me a while back saying CS is nothing more than about surfing couches. In short, that CS is apolitical. Well, to me, this is proof that everything is political – especially things that seem like they aren’t. But what kind of politics will you have?

    I love this quote:
    “Kuyabanda phezulu; kushushu ezontsi” – Xhosa Proverb translating as “Its cold up there; its warm down here”.

    I, for one, don’t like being cold. I’ll try to stay warm down here with the ‘other’. My goal: not only to work for their liberation but to liberate myself as well.

    Anu: Does this mean you are going to write a book about ‘the cold’ up there near to the LT? I’d read it :)

  • @Jared: Could you please explain, why the post reminds you of Vendetta? I’m just curious because that’s definetly not my intention. I just tried to describe my view of things and claimed the right to do so, especially because the “official” view of CS corp. is completely different.

    Vendetta – Revenge? What for? Hmm, most people here are far beyond that, nomore believing in any positive change at CS.

    Right now I see OpenCS as a place to (re-)connect and learn from a shared experience. This may result in collaborations in new/other projects.

    Getting in the warm again – sounds great.

  • @Midsch: I think Jared meant the movie “V for Vendetta”, which is a comic book as well. Since it most definitely is about violent resistence and indeed revenge, it might be a little bit of an overblown analogy though ;-)

  • I thoroughly enjoyed the movie, I’ve seen it a few times. If you feel yourself giving up on CouchSurfing and thinking to move on, I’d recommend watching the film, it might just inspire you.

    That, and of course, Braveheart! Nothing inspires me to fight for freedom quite like watching Braveheart! :)

  • Great post, midsch. I too was very impressed by Kasper’s strength in character by removing those negative references for others.

    I agree with Valeri that CS has chosen it’s path. It has enough momentum to continue with its present strategy and I don’t see any turning back, unless there is another major crisis.

    I just don’t understand why some newbie members are on CS brainstorm group “championing” for an open CS. They have yet to invest that much energy in the project – so isn’t easier to start afresh with BeWelcome? I find those posts are actually counter-productive; bystanders end up becoming numb to the “usual suspects” and may start to believe the label “CS-haters”.

    Anyway CS seemed like a great community project in the beginning – now, as a service it’s not as special. Maybe I just need a break from HC/CS/BW for a few months. Or maybe I’ve just found Facebook more fun now… :)

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