The Drama Over Drama

by Bill Brenner on April 2, 2015

Recently, someone in the security community opined that she’s not a fan of hugs at security conferences. The pro-huggers didn’t like her comment and used social media to say so.

Also recently, the folks running RSA Conference decided to ban so-called “booth babes.” That led to a very long debate about sexism vs. freedom of expression.

Mood music:

In both cases, someone in the crowd yelled a word that’s been used so much that it’s true meaning has been all but forgotten:


Personally, I don’t see any of this as drama. I see it as mostly intelligent people discussing very real cultural matters. They’re not specific to infosec, but since that’s our industry, it’s where the discussion is focused. I see absolutely nothing wrong with it. A lot of good dialogue came out of the so-called “hug-gate.”

The word drama is almost always used these days to describe something people don’t want to discuss. It’s a one-word arsenal meant to shoot down anyone you disagree with. I get shot at a lot. And I’m perfectly fine with it.

What is real drama? Let’s consult the dictionary, in this case the Merriam-Webster Dictionary’s Collegiate: “a piece of writing that tells a story and is performed on a stage”; “a play, movie, television show, or radio show that is about a serious subject and is not meant to make the audience laugh”; or “the art or activity of performing a role in a play, show, etc.”

The stuff being discussed of late is real life. We’re not on a stage, acting in a play. It doesn’t start that way, at least. Often in these discussion threads, the trolls make comments meant to get a reaction out of people. That’s when we go from discussion to drama. And those who start it are usually the very people who decry something as drama in the first place. The Facebook thread on booth babes is a perfect example.

I love you people. I’m proud to be in the same industry with you. But if you don’t like a topic, maybe you should just ignore it instead of sticking around to make trouble. You’re free to do what you want, of course. But don’t think for a second that these issues will go away because you said something snarky.

In fact, your snark simply ensures that the discussion will continue and that it will become drama where none previously existed.

Captain Kirk yelling

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Hack er April 24, 2015 at 8:29 pm

Honestly, I think there’s a problem with the culture here. It seems like nowadays, everyone in the hacker community is trying to one-up each other on how socially inept and offensive they can be, and anyone that speaks out against it is a horrible oppressor. Even someone asking to not be hugged is extremely offensive to these people! Now let’s make fun of “trigger warnings” because there’s no way that PTSD is an actual thing!

Incidents like this are why I avoid the hacker scene like the plague. You’ve got people like Weev in positions of social authority, and you’ve got white males whining like you’d think they’re being forced to sit in the back of the bus or something. I’ll work in the industry, and I’ll engage people in business, but when it comes to my circle of friends, I’d rather cultivate a circle of emotionally stable people without the victim mentality that seems so prevalent in the community right now.

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