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'I have a dream…'

The CEO of a dating app startup apologises for her past online behaviour, which has come to light after a number of screenshots were published. In this world people trust each other and technology serves the common good. Every internet user is traceable, transparent etc. Society is diverse and inclusive. Inclusion and diversity policies are being monitored, as are people’s attitudes towards them. Inclusion is far-reaching, and apologies are expected if you don’t take responsibility for your actions.
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I made a mistake.

I did not do enough to make the SES<3-community feel at home at Trueify.

I am listening. I am learning.
I am ashamed of myself.

Trueify wants to be a dating app for everyone, regardless of gender orientation, MB type, sexual scale alignment, validity, age, horoscope, heritage, body shape, abilities, socio-economic status and all other identifiers that make us human. As a leader I have failed to achieve this.

I want to apologise. I will create a safe space for those voices that are not being sufficiently heard on our platform. I want to thank user @Lynn-Bosworth-09-07-2010-Leamington for being the first one to publish these screenshots. You are holding me accountable and I am grateful for that. I hope that other users feel free to do the same. It inspires growth and development. (My therapist supports this development and me reaching out to you, loyal Trueify users and those surrounding them.)

I would like to share with you what happened at the time. I have discussed this at length with my therapist, who supports my choice to confront my past and take full accountability and responsibility for everything that happened. I am immensely grateful for his help, and I am aware that not everyone has the luxury of being able to afford such support.

I know that sharing my experiences does not excuse them. But I would like to start there in the interest of being open and transparent.

Six years ago, during the Protests of ’29, I was 22 years old. Yes, I was young, but that does not exonerate me. It was a time when unchecked information could be freely disseminated on the Internet, when the lines between true and false, right and wrong were blurred. It was a time when it was not common to treat each other with respect. On the contrary.

This is merely an attempt to give you an impression of society at the time. It does by no means justify my statements.

Those dubious information flows and mutual hostility created an unstable foundation for me and my friends at the time – I have since severed all ties with these people. What was to be trusted? How could we learn what the world was really like? What was the difference between fact and fiction?

It was the foundation for a strong sense of insecurity. I tried holding on to the views I had been taught when I was younger. My parents, Mary (@Mary-A.-E.-Baker-11-04-1970-Grantham) and Robert (@Robert-K.-Dixon-08-08-1968-Nottingham), both have an SES>4, and I was raised with the same privileges. But when I was young I was unaware of what these privileges involved. How my privileged position shaped me and inspired my thinking.

At the time I strongly believed that we were a meritocratic society: that everyone got what they deserved based on their merit. My parents always worked hard; that was why they had an SES>4. Wasn’t it? At the time I was busy with the scale-up of my second start-up, Coachify. I was working 60 hour weeks. My parents called it my ‘work ethos’: they made me feel it was something to be proud of. They would sometimes joke about their status as ‘hard-working tax payers’, but there was always a hint of seriousness about those remarks. So that is how I saw myself: as a hard-working tax payer.

I did not yet understand that our SES>4 stemmed from inter- and intragenerational wealth, the privilege of having grown up in economic prosperity, of being western, white, straight, and able-bodied. That it arose from the tax breaks for wealthy citizens that were commonplace at the time, from the unequal distribution of wealth in society, from the political choices made as a result of economic and housing crises, etc. In other words, I thought I owed my SES>4 to myself.

I got to know my former friends in secondary school. It was highly unusual to have an SES of 4 in the area that I grew up in. Almost everyone had an SES of 5. When I was in school, SES was not nearly as important an issue at it is now: not only because everyone came from more or less the same level of society, but also because it did not feature in the public debate. I was more aware of my whiteness and my position as a woman than I was of my socio-economic status. We did not talk about money, or wealth, of inheritance, gifts, income, pay checks, funds, savings accounts. My friends and I didn’t even talk about pocket money. The subject just did not come up.

I now understand that this is a luxury for which there are no words. I was, and still am, part of the 1%.

Back to the Protests. Growing up with an SES>4 meant that I did not quite grasp what we were protesting. I could not respond adequately. It felt like I was being attacked. When protesters mentioned ‘the rich’ I tried very hard to pretend that it was not about me, but only those with an SES>5. I busied myself with Coachify – Trueify did not yet exist – and largely kept my distance.  

I say ‘largely’, because I did have an opinion. The screenshots make that very clear.

Of course I thought it was preposterous that the tax authorities had accused beneficiaries of fraud on such a large scale. That it was the umpteenth time in ten years. That so many people were crushed by the government yet again. I thought it was preposterous that those with an SES>3 were automatically and continuously branded as potential fraudsters, completely unfounded. I thought it was unacceptable that their data was being tracked and monitored. I thought it, but I didn’t quite understand the protests following this new scandal.

To me, the tax scandal of Christmas 2028 was an isolated case. A scandal that did not concern me. It was something that was unpleasant for other people, whom I did empathise with.

At the start of the Protests in January 2029, it was a hot topic on Twitter (yes, we still used Twitter then). At first I did not get involved in those discussions. I followed them, but I mostly just saw the opinions of my fellow SES peers who were very similar to my own, and could be summarised as ‘it’s bad, just not for me’. That’s how the algorithm worked at the time. The internet was an echo chamber.

When the protests got bigger in February it made me anxious. I saw videos on Twitter that got more and more extreme, and I assumed they were real. My algorithm fed me so-called looters and rioters. Once again: this was a time when uncontrolled information could spread at lightning speed. It is not an excuses, but it is an important context. I do not know why I believed it. I cannot imagine it now.

I do remember the video that prompted me to tweet about it. I saw grainy footage of four men aggressively shoving people aside, climbing in through the broken glass of an electronics store front, only to come out with TVs, laptops, a PlayStation 9 and an iron. I remember the iron most of all.

This led to my Twitter thread in which I called these men common thieves. The thread was retweeted a lot by my friends and followers. I later deleted the thread; not out of fear, but because I no longer agreed with my own point of view. I should have known there were screenshots. And once again, I don’t mind. By publishing it @Lynn-Bosworth-09-07-2010-Leamington made sure I was able to reflect on the episode again.

I now know that the video was not entirely real. These men did climb into the store and took stuff, but they did not shove anyone aside. That part of the video was manipulated; a deep fake.

I now know that the electronics store had surveillance cameras aimed at the street, and that is why protesters smashed the façade earlier: to disable the cameras.

I also got to know Theo, Danny, Rico and Enes. They were all unemployed at the time. They had to watch their rent increase without any prospect of an income, and watch their benefits decrease every year. They were in trouble with the Benefits Agency all the time. Danny took the iron because he knew it would make his wife happy: she had been ironing her clothes with a pot of boiling water.  

I now know that structural and deliberate preferential treatment of the ‘higher class’ (as SES>4 was still called at the time) leads to structural and deliberate marginalisation of the ‘lower class’.

I now know that it is too easy and naïve to judge people right away.

I now know that not only did I benefit from a system that protected and supported me and family, but I also actively participated. By letting it happen. By not doing anything about it.

That is why I am writing this letter.

That is why I apologise, once and for all.

I meet with Theo, Danny, Rico and Enes regularly. We had a coffee and talked. I learned a lot from them, and I am grateful for that. Danny and Enes are happily married; Theo and Rico are both using Trueify and feel at home. Theo told me yesterday about a fun date he had last week. I hope that everyone continues to feel welcome at Trueify.

I hope we can continue on good terms.

To Danny, Rico, Enes and Theo, but also to you, readers and users of Trueify:

I am sorry.

-Emma Dixon

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