When the head of PlayStation calls for respect the emotional meltdown begins.
It is accepted that the abortion issue is one that evokes deep emotional responses from people. The problem is that while these reactions are expected, they also cloud reasoning and pragmatic analysis. This is made all too clear when looking at a corporate letter from a CEO who addressed the matter within his business. People both inside and outside the company are having fierce reactions — to his non-position on the subject and calling for calm and understanding.
Over at Bloomberg News, Jason Schreier provides an update on the growing issue of gaming companies being compelled to join in the national debate on abortion. Jeff Charles covered how the Washington Post was attempting to leverage the video game industry into taking up the fight to preserve Roe vs. Wade.
Understand the motivation for this: The news outlets have to maintain a veneer of objectivity, but if they can get companies to come out and oppose that rollback, then they are able to report on the controversy in a way that suits their narrative. The industry leaders would become the proxy voice of the press, and the opposition to the pro-life positions could get reported freely. Well, one corporate leader is not taking the bait.
Schreier reports some people inside Sony Corporation are “seething” over an internal email that was sent by PlayStation CEO Jim Ryan, regarding the corporate position on the issue of abortion. In short – Ryan took no position at all. In that email, it was said, “PlayStation president Jim Ryan didn’t take a stance on abortion rights.” Instead, Ryan took a rather sober approach to the matter as he noted that there are differing opinions on this topic and that it would be proper to understand that people have a right to an opinion.
“We owe it to each other and to PlayStation’s millions of users to respect differences of opinion among everyone in our internal and external communities. Respect does not equal agreement. But it is fundamental to who we are as a company and as a valued global brand.”
Ryan followed up these comments with a lengthy section about his cats.
So his non-comment and a call for respect and decency have been met with outrage. He has refused to palace his company in the crosshairs of the culture war and focused instead on what his company’s mission statement is – to sell video games and gaming consoles. People are outraged at him over this, but the emotional imbalance is revealed by a simple fact; those upset at Ryan could not even tell you what his position is on the matter of abortion.
Schreier details that he was privy to some internal communications, and these messages reveal this specific emotional hysteria. “In internal discussions viewed by Bloomberg, which haven’t been previously reported, employees at several PlayStation studios expressed their displeasure at the tone of the email.” They are displeased with the tone of a man calling for people to respect one another and appreciate that people have personal opinions. That says far more about those who are seething than it does about Ryan.
Schreier went on to say some women felt particularly bothered by the email. “Some women wrote that they felt their rights were disrespected or trivialized by the message.” This just shows the emotional cloud that obscures rationality. They claim they were disrespected by Ryan, as he specifically and repeatedly called for everyone to show respect.
The only way anyone could miss that is if they approach this issue from the standpoint that if someone does not automatically align with your opinion then they are perceived as being antagonistic and hostile. And in the end, they end up displaying the very reaction that inspires Ryan to make non-committal and conciliatory statements as a company.
There is no way to win on this issue as a CEO. If you take a position you will enrage those who are on the other side, and if you make no statement there will be pressure and criticisms that this is somehow denying the voices on your side any support. At least Jim Ryan — by not taking a stand and calling for understanding — managed to hold up a mirror of sorts, exposing some of those who are raging as acting out of emotional idiocy.
If you are upset about a CEO calling for decency and respect, you have just made the admission you are not interested in those character traits. You have also excused anyone from needing to hear from you on this particular topic.