As the publisher of an independent blog covering the situation at the IMA...
I have been increasingly called upon to evaluate and publish different accounts of what has been going on both internally and externally at the Internet Merchants Association.
The more I read, the more information I am sent from various current and former members, the more I am starting to believe that those who have left or who have been summarily removed from the association, may be better off.
The story continues to blossom into a full fledged soap opera of amazing events followed by inconceivable decisions. Members expelled, Board members resigning, ethics committee ignored, suspensions lifted, suspensions imposed, rules violations, rules changes... It all becomes a blur of some kind of B movie cinema retrospect of a cross between Peyton Place and Dallas.
Other blogs and websites have posted names and dates and the story, as seen through the eyes of actual Board members... I will simply say today - what's the point? Sure, I have followed this story, and I will continue to do so. But if this is effecting your life, if, as a caring member or former member, you are moved to the extent of physical or emotional stress, is it worth it?
It seems from the outside... (I am an outsider who had no previous opinion either for or against the IMA, it's President or board members, other than to wonder why they spent so much time and energy bashing another trade group. A trade group I am a member of but have no active board level participation in )... that the membership at IMA must have been dealing with more strange and useless activities than just the odd and persistent bash fest against PeSA.
I have received letter upon letter, obviously written by very upset and almost physically shaken individuals who in most cases simply wanted to belong to a fair and honest group of like minded people.
In most cases this is what a trade group or association is supposed to embody. Of course there will be differing opinions, but the Board of Directors usually intends upon moderating these differences, not causing them.
From this stream of letters and notes and text messages comes a story which is uncannily repeated, with amazing accuracy, from almost every source. The story seems to indicate an ever present and ominous theme... And that theme is somewhat dictatorial in nature and mostly unwise in its implementation. This theme could be dubbed into many other situations where power and greed took hold of normally level headed individuals.
It is a story which has been told a thousand times before and never the less it always comes as a shock to those who are the most invested. We have all been caught up in situations like this, different circumstances, same overall theme, same confusion, same feeling of loss.
Please know, if you are a member of the IMA and if any of this sounds very familiar to you, people on the outside empathize and understand. I have not heard or read anything from anyone outside of the Internet Merchants Association express anything but support for the rank & file members and the dismissed board members of the IMA. You have the complete understanding of other like minded Internet professionals from every part of the community.
The question remains, what now?
I do not know any of the remaining members of the Board of Directors at the IMA, but I do know that they have remained silent for far too long.
If this is all untrue, if the comments and the letters, and the blog posts and the possible legal actions are all just a misunderstanding... Why doesn't anyone from the IMA Board or governing committee or presidents office come out and say something to that effect?
Is it time to move on?
We all understand, many members put more into this than the initial membership fee. Your time and your efforts have been for the good of all involved... But sometimes you must just cut your losses and move on. Better to look ahead, better to think of your own business, better to spend some quality time with your family, better to leave this debacle behind you... if it has been causing you to become agitated or worse - depressed.
I know I would be asking myself some very simple questions if I were trying to make a decision about remaining or not.
- Am I better off?
- Am I or is my company benefiting from this relationship?
- Could I have done more to make it work?
- Is there any sign of improvement, will it get better?
- Where do I want to be a year from now?
- Is there a different choice?
- Why am I letting this situation effect my life?
If this is effecting your life, or your business, or your overall general attitude, seek a change please.
One powerful person can do anything you allow that person to do, dictators throughout history have proved this to be true time and again. It is when the people take personal control back from a dictator or powerful influence that all truths suddenly become clear. There are better places, there are better situations, there will always be another organization to join and nurture and help...
If you have been dealing with a situation where you feel as though you have no say, no control, no real benefit... No matter the organization...