Friday, February 11

Bloggering the Obvious

Free Expression Can Be Costly When Bloggers Bad-Mouth Jobs (WaPo):
Under the pseudonym of Sarcastic Journalist, Rachel Mosteller wrote this entry on her personal Web log one day last April: "'I really hate my place of employment. Seriously. Okay, first off. They have these stupid little awards that are supposed to boost company morale. So you go and do something 'spectacular' (most likely, you're doing your JOB) and then someone says 'Why golly, that was spectacular.' then they sign your name on some paper, they bring you chocolate and some balloons." "Okay two people in the newsroom just got it. FOR DOING THEIR JOB." This post, like all entries in Mosteller's online diary, did not name her company or the writer. It did not name co-workers or bosses. It did not say where the company was based. But apparently, Mosteller's supervisors and co-workers at the Durham (N.C.) Herald-Sun were well aware of her Web log. The day after that posting, she was fired. ... Mosteller, 25, said the blog was one of the reasons she was given for losing her job, and she is still in shock. "Considering I treated the blog as a smoke break, I didn't think of it as a problem."

Ah, the young. You'd never catch me blogging that kind of stuff about my company. Part of it's that I'm a minor middle manager now and part of my job is to keep morale up by not magnifying the small stuff into mountains. Sufficient unto the day are the hassles thereof. But a big part of it, too, is the simple fact that life experience teaches us: all organizations are dysfunctional. Nature made us for geselleschaft, not gemeineschaft. Or is it the other way around? I mean to say that we'd rather belong to tribes than to armies, and the cathedral is always built by people who would rather be at the bazaar. That's why they call it "work" and not "daily self-fulfillment periods." That's why they have to bribe us to do it. To complain about it is to belabor the obvious. The Protestant Ethic, yada yada, read your Max Weber, take a night class, improve your mind.

My company's no different, and I can and do gripe all the time about this nonsense and that, but mostly I try to work it out with the people involved and not talk behind their backs to the Internet masses about how stupid they are. People often behave badly or stupidly for a good reason that they just don't have time to tell you, so you do well to give them the benefit of the doubt before you write 'em off forever.

On the other hand--and I'm not just saying this in case they're reading this--I do appreciate our CEO having some of us into breakfast every week. Smart guy, comes right out and asks for the latest rumors, fields gripes, either gives you a straight answer or tells you straight why he can't. Also looks a lot like Capt. Kirk and doesn't seem to mind if you say so. Works well in an SME company like ours. The guy does his CEO job: gives you confidence, makes you feel good about things getting better if you just hang on. Sure, maybe I'm naive, he might be pulling a Nixon on us--I've had it happen to me--but I really don't think so. The plan of the new owners makes sense, seems to have a good chance of keeping my job, which I like, going, so sign me up, I'll do what I can and be honest with you about what I can't.

So I'm just not sure that Rachel here is a poster child for the endangered First Amendment. If I were her boss, I'd be telling to spend her energy trying to at least cope with the things she doesn't like so she can get on with what we're paying her for. I'd rather see her blogging about what she learned at work today, for example: How to spell 'spelunking,' punctuate a "not only ... but also" construction, or wangle information out of the county coroner.

Why, I myself told the nice young lady in HR yesterday that she was my "work valentine" just because she went out of her way to do a good job and help me in a timely manner. We're all big kids, really: We like it when teacher puts a smilie face on our spelling test. Hey, I know I do.


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