I discussed the reaction I received to my investing ideas at the Financial Bloggers Conference in a recent comment put to the Goon Central board. The comment was advanced on a thread titled Tweets on Defamatory Content:
Say, Rob, did you notice that people tended to not go out of their way to include you in conversations – in fact, they tended to edge away?
There is indeed discomfort about the investing issue. People don’t say “I am going to write about that at my blog when I get home” or “Tell me exactly what happened, I want to know the complete story here” or “I am going to let all my friends know about this, this is important stuff.”
To that extent, the suggestion you put forward here represents reality. This topic causes 95 percent of the people who hear about it to feel intense discomfort. Some try to hide it. A small percentage act like out-and-out goons (I didn’t meet any like that at the conference, but it could be that they made an effort to stay away from me). Most remain low-key and do express shock re the obviously shocking stuff (death threats) but don’t ask the follow-up questions that you would expect to hear if they were letting in the significance to their own portfolios and to our economic system as a whole of the message they are hearing.
I of course acknowledge that this reaction is strange. It is also highly consistent. I am not describing a sometime thing. I am describing an almost-always thing.
But, no, people did not edge away in the way you describe. For example, when I was checking in at the hotel, J.D. Roth was sitting nearby with a group of people talking and he called out to me. He didn’t have to do that. He knows my views on investing. He called out and invited me over voluntarily.
So I sat with those people. Todd Tressider was one of them. He was in the process of writing his long piece on SWRs. So that got the discussion started on my favorite issue. As part of that discussion, I told two women bloggers in the group about the death threats, etc. Both expressed shock and then the discussion turned to other subjects (as part of the phenomenon described above). When it got to dinner time, the two women bloggers and me and a man blogger agreed to go to dinner together (J.D. and Todd had gotten into conversations with other people). There was no attempt to exclude me or anything like that. Our conversation was warm and engaging.
I’ve exchanged e-mails with J.D. and with Todd in the months since. There HAVE been disagreements expressed in those conversations. But not hostility. I think there is less warmth than there would be if the disagreements were not present — they are afraid to get too close because that would require them to take a stronger position on the honestzzz posting matter than they feel prepared to take today. So there IS a distance that otherwise wouldn’t be there. But it would not be right to say that they are avoiding me. Todd has called me on the phone unsolicited two times. Would someone trying to avoid someone punch in that person’s number on the telephone? That makes no sense.
Is there distance? Yes.
Is there discomfort? Yes.
Are people experiencing confusion? Yes.
Are people uncertain how to proceed? Yes.
Are people running away from Rob Bennett, saying “he’s crazy” or “he’s dangerous”? No. Only the Goons are pretending to do that.
Actually, it’s beginning to play out the other way around. THe Normals are showing more indications that they are feeling discomfort in the presence of the Goons.
I had a Guest Blog at Consumerism Commentary the other day. You Goons almost always try to disrupt such super discussions. There were no Goon posts. My guess is that you tried and that your posts were deleted by the site owner. That’s what we need to see. That’s what we should have seen the first time you came forward with your ugliness at Motley Fool. If people are starting to react that way, we are very much traveling on the right track, albeit slowly as all get-out.