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Welcome to my weblog. I hope you enjoy it. I just got fired for it.
October 9, 2001 10:42 AM   Subscribe

Welcome to my weblog. I hope you enjoy it. I just got fired for it.
posted by Bluecoat93 (68 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Does the site require registration to get rid of the left-margin column of links and calender that is blocking my view of the blog, or is there some other way to read it?
posted by msacheson at 10:50 AM on October 9, 2001


this struck a deep, deep chord. how far apart do you hold your personal life (as manifested thru the weblog) and your professional life? when everything is linkable (and cached by google) is it possible to hold them apart? desirable?

I was requested recently by someone in my personal life that I write about them as little as possible. it's a weird exercise. (like anais nin's diary - the original published versions, you'd never know she was married! um, twice, at the same time....)

msacheson, I think the overlapping thing must be a weird css thing, because I'm not getting it at all (Win98, IE6).
posted by epersonae at 10:54 AM on October 9, 2001


Thanks, epersonae. Time for me to upgrade.
posted by msacheson at 10:58 AM on October 9, 2001


This guy's story really hit me too. My company has always known about my personal sites (I even used them as examples when they hired me), and they've never asked me to not mention them. In fact, for a while I was the top referrer to some of their newer web ventures! Once the bottom of the market dropped out, though, I started to think that maybe I should remove the references. Once people started getting laid off, I did. I did it because I wanted to avoid the situation this guy found himself in. I wanted to talk about friends forced to leave and I didn't want to find myself smacked with a lawsuit afterwards. I think the employer in this situation DID overreact a little, but I can certainly understand where he's coming from. Perhaps the author should've anticipated the reaction a bit. He mentions several things his boss could've asked him to do; why didn't he do one of those in the first place? (He does disclaim affiliation with them on his 'About' page, but it's not exactly obvious.) I don't mean to rip on him - I wish I had the same courage of my convictions that he did. I just think he maybe could've done a bit more to save his job and see things from his boss's perspective...
posted by web-goddess at 11:03 AM on October 9, 2001


hey, that's my mission in life. :)
posted by epersonae at 11:03 AM on October 9, 2001


Wow. That is powerful.

I work for the military-industrial complex. I was worried for a long time that my boss would read some of the liberal, Bush bashing, pinko babblings I was posting and get medieval on my blog. But he didn't. He loves it. Or at least tolerates it. Which is good, because I love my job. Even more so because they understand that free speech is not a marketing liability.

I feel for this guy. He's obviously better than his boss disserves. Too bad that doesn't count for more than PR.
posted by y6y6y6 at 11:03 AM on October 9, 2001


msacheson: If you're using NN4, paste this into your address bar and hit return:

javascript:void(document.layers.menu.left=900)

If IE4, use this:

javascript:void(document.all.menu.style.left='900px')

and for IE5+, Opera5, or NN6:

javascript:void(document.getElementById('menu').style.left='900px')
posted by nikzhowz at 11:07 AM on October 9, 2001


msacheson: hit the ' printer friendly ' page here.
posted by jasonshellen at 11:12 AM on October 9, 2001


The phrase "exercise of discretion" comes to mind. If you believe your job might be in jeopardy if you blog, you may - just may - want to consider keeping your wild and crazy personal life to yourself. Or here's a thought: use an alias. Don't give the link to your coworkers. Change your URL. Take it down and restart later when the boss has forgotten about it. Exercise some discretion.

The real shame of this is that the essay in question is so banal. It's boring. I prefer my free speech champions worth defending, a rarity these days. Instead, I have to shuffle along behind all the rest of the shlumps, mouthing "censorship is bad, blah blah blah..." Where's Andres Serrano when you need him?

It may be appropriate to consider that thousands of people are currently losing their jobs for the exact reasons that this guy's boss gave him. Could be we are having our legs pulled. There's certainly no way to prove any of this is true, is there...?
posted by UncleFes at 11:27 AM on October 9, 2001


web-goddess, I agree with you that he could've nipped the problem in the bud himself.

And thanks for the browser tips, y'all. By the way, I'm on Netscape Communicator 4.7, but I don't want to hijack this thread with anymore comments about my IT issues than we've already done.
posted by msacheson at 11:31 AM on October 9, 2001


Fes, I was thinking the same thing.

Addiction is paranoia.
posted by skallas at 11:33 AM on October 9, 2001


Wow. I just read Mark's story, and it's very unsettling -- and equally inspiring. He paints an incredibly vivid picture, in minute detail, of the hellish life of an addict; it's an awesome piece of writing. And he comes though it all intact, and sane, and substance-free for over 2 years. My hat is off to him; I'm profoundly impressed.

Losing his job sucks, to say the least. And the last thing he needs now is for a bunch of armchair quarterback/pop psychologist know-it-alls to dump on him. So I'll try not to do that, and go gently. But...

... his arguments about the need to write are full of holes. Sure, his need to write is sacrosanct, and nobody should try in any way to dissuade him from doing so. But does he have to publish what he writes on the Web? Of course not. Let's say he's decided that he does want to make his statements publicly; is it essential that he use his own name? Again, unequivocally, no.

Mark is obviously an incredibly bright guy. And the truth is, he even foresaw the possibility of losing his job due to his own missteps in his 'addiction' monologue:

Addiction is wondering when someone will please notice that I'm a fuckup and come take away my apartment, my dog, my high-paying job, my charmed life, but no one ever does.

I'm not gonna call Mark a f*ckup, he doesn't need that right now. I sympathesize with him more than I feel critical toward him.

That said, UncleFes' watchwords -- exercise of discretion -- are right on target. What happened to Mark is just another reminder of how important it is for us bloggers to take very seriously the decision we make regarding what we're going to write about, how intimately we're going to address our subject matter, and whether to publish accountably or anonymously.
posted by verdezza at 11:34 AM on October 9, 2001


A very similar thing (almost) happened to me, except I used an alias and never mentioned people or company names.

Basically, I outlined why a coworker got fired and my opinions on that (which didn't favor the company). Someone read the piece (at Diaryland at the time), showed it to the fired employee, to which she showed it to the company!

Luckily, my company respects me enough to leave it/me/my site alone.
posted by schlomo at 11:42 AM on October 9, 2001


Would I print out this and post it on the bulletin board by the coffe maker at work? No.

Then why would I post it on a webpage that everyone I work with knows about...?
posted by zempf at 11:42 AM on October 9, 2001


Whenever I refer to my company online, I use a code phrase, A Big Company. No one here knows I have a website or weblog and I never mention anyone at work by name, either. I'm the sole support of my family, I have to carefully weigh my need to write and to be critical against that responsibility. I'm sure a lot of other people are in similar situations.

I'm sorry Mark lost his job, and when he gets another, I hope he rethinks his posting policy.
posted by tommasz at 11:47 AM on October 9, 2001


zempf: why should you have to hide who you are?
posted by mis at 12:11 PM on October 9, 2001


Mark is obviously an incredibly bright guy. And the truth is, he even foresaw the possibility of losing his job due to his own missteps in his 'addiction' monologue:

Addiction is wondering when someone will please notice that I'm a fuckup and come take away my apartment, my dog, my high-paying job, my charmed life, but no one ever does.


you got it all wrong verdezza. that paragraph wasn't him forseeing anything. that paragraph was describing, in incisive language, a basic underlying truth known to all addicts - that whatever we have, or are, or beleive, we don't deserve.
posted by quonsar at 12:16 PM on October 9, 2001


a basic underlying truth known to all addicts

oops. truth should have been 'truth'
posted by quonsar at 12:18 PM on October 9, 2001


mis, sometimes I want to post things on my webpage that I know for a fact would be hurtful to the people (my friends, family, whoever) who read my webpage. In cases such as these, I exercise restraint & don't post such things, because I realize it's just not worth it. Sure, writing posts like this out can have a cathartic effect, but when it comes at the cost of losing friends or a job sometimes it's better to just not write it. It's just a case of realizing that my webpage is a very public forum (it's in my profile here, on my resume, etc.) and that anything I post on there can be read by anyone, anywhere. Maybe for some people the benefits of writing outweigh the potential risk of the writings being read by the wrong person, but for me personally I just find it's better to let some things remain unposted.
posted by zempf at 12:35 PM on October 9, 2001


zempf: why should you have to hide who you are?

Because, as Tommasz pointed out, sometimes your life isn't all about you. I have a wife and kid who depend on me, and that means I do not write wacky little online essays about my addictions with my name on them and then forward the URL to my coworkers, on the off-chance that the people who pay my salary, which in turn pays my bills and keeps my family in food and clothing, decide they don't want Joe Addict working in their shop.

Which, imo, my employers are perfectly within their rights to say and make happen. A job is not a right - a job is a responsibility, my responsibility to my employers to provide a day's worth of work for day's worth of pay. They reward my industriousness with increased responsibility, power and pay.... or they fire my ass. Posting an online essay of this nature not only calls into question my ability to fulfill my responsibilities to the company (since I have so many addictions getting in the way), it calls into question my intelligence and decision making capacity as well.

So, really, you shouldn't have to hide who you are - but if you are not your company's preferred employee template, you should try to have the intelligence to realize it and the forthought to keep it to yourself.
posted by UncleFes at 12:42 PM on October 9, 2001


I love that mis asked why should we have to hide who we are and yet in his/her profile, there is naught.

I have shouted this for a long time: The new coin of the realm is anonymity. That is why many (including yours truly) choose to not list who we are. We have moved beyond the point of avoiding impropriety, we now must avoid the appearance of impropriety.

This blogger, while to be commended for his ability to admit a addiction, needed to show more sense. We all do and I expect as the future comes down upon us, your private life will fare better if it in no way coincides with your public one.

It sucks, I agree, but this is the way some of our worlds will end. Not with a bang or a whimper but rather a pink slip.
posted by Dagobert at 12:48 PM on October 9, 2001


Posting an online essay of this nature not only calls into question my ability to fulfill my responsibilities to the company (since I have so many addictions getting in the way), it calls into question my intelligence and decision making capacity as well.
The employer would have to prove that the alleged addictions impair actual work performance and could not be accommodated by the employer. The remark above essentially says "Self-declared addicts are undesirables by definition." U.S. law does not work that way.

The last sentence is a kind of vamping that might be worth a chuckle if I weren't sure that UncleFes actually works that way and likes to spin hypothetical yarns to find pretexts to fire employees. Of course, I could be mistaken.
posted by joeclark at 12:55 PM on October 9, 2001


Joe, are you trying to hurt my feelings? :)

I don't fire anyone. If I did, I certainly wouldn't fire good employees with "hypothetical yarns" - good employees are hard to find and harder to keep. And saying that US law doesn't work that way dismisses the often-farcical aspect of US law. But really - do you NOT feel that you have a responsibility to your employer to perform as best you can and earn your salary? Provided they in turn show you the consideration and loyalty due a good employee? And do you really believe that employers should NOT judge the fitness of their employees to do their jobs, or the level of skills they have that contribute to their performance?
posted by UncleFes at 1:03 PM on October 9, 2001 [1 favorite]


If the addiction is to an illegal substance, does the employer actually have to prove that it impairs work performance? Your statement would imply to me that an employee who fails a drug test can't be fired unless it can be proven that said addiction actually affects his work, but I assumed that employees could be fired simply for using illegal drugs in the first place. I know many people who could function perfectly well at one of any non-intensive (fast food, etc.) jobs while high, but could never get hired at one because they would fail a drug screening.
posted by zempf at 1:04 PM on October 9, 2001


Welcome to my weblog. I hope you enjoy it. I just got fired for it.

Wow. Deja vu. Awfully different situations, though.
posted by owen at 1:06 PM on October 9, 2001


but i don't understand why his company would fire him for this -- so there's a blog out there, by an addict, who happens to have a job. i would certainly hope that no other employee there has ever had an addiction, an affair, a night where drinking too much and driving home with someone you just met seemed like the right thing to do.

people fuck up, we make mistakes, we start all over again. that's the point. if someone's coming to work so far off his or her ass that he or she can't function, there are steps to go through in order to discipline that person. it sounds like this guy hasn't even had a cup of coffee since he's worked there. i would think that his firing was illegal.

what schmucks.
posted by sugarfish at 1:18 PM on October 9, 2001


I do have to say that what gets me about this is that he's sober now -- if you read through the whole post, he notes that all of the alcohol- & drug-induced events occurred two years ago. While I can understand disciplining an employee for being an addict, it makes no sense to me to fire an employee because he used to be an addict. Hell, we've elected Presidents who've done more in their pasts than this guy has.
posted by zempf at 1:27 PM on October 9, 2001


I agree - so long as the guy was doing his job satisfactorily, there's no reason for the firing. But what he did was give the boss ammo to apparently conduct a firing for personal reasons. So who's stupider?

OR this guy just got laid off because business is bad, and he's blaming it on his boss' reading of his weblog. This whole thing could be bullshit.

Also, if this guy's a quality employee, and this firing was for personal (rather than professional) reasons, he's going to get scooped up by someone else fairly quickly. Even in down job markets, smart and effective employees can get jobs. And even if it takes a while, he can get a temporary job to hold himself over while he looks for something better.
posted by UncleFes at 1:32 PM on October 9, 2001


why should you have to hide who you are?

Why should an employer have to keep an employee who publishes something that may reflect badly on the company?

Looking over Pilgrim's site, I don't see anything that would reflect badly on a company. If he's a good employee, it seems idiotic to fire him for posting a resume or being candid about past addiction. In a big company, he could even be a useful resource to other coworkers making the same fight.

However, if I ran a business, there are things I would not want an employee publishing on the Web without taking steps to distance himself from my company.
posted by rcade at 1:32 PM on October 9, 2001


UncleFes: Posting an online essay of this nature not only calls into question my ability to fulfill my responsibilities to the company (since I have so many addictions getting in the way), it calls into question my intelligence and decision making capacity as well.

Doesn't it change things somewhat that, as he makes quite clear in the essay, he has been drug-free for nearly two years?

His addictions probably didn't interfere with his job because, quite simply, he wasn't giving in to them while he had that job. Further, from the sound of things, his employer didn't think that they were interfering with how he did his job--they were concerned about what potential clients might think, seeing his weblog associated with the company.

Certainly I can understand where his employer was coming from, and the issue is at least a bit fuzzy. Discretion is necessary and appropriate. But it's not at all obvious to me that that essay was worth firing someone over.
posted by moss at 1:33 PM on October 9, 2001


Would I print out this and post it on the bulletin board by the coffe maker at work? No.


Your webspace isn't your workspace. They are two different worlds, but many businesses don't see it that way. Of course you can avoid this mess by going anonymous, but the thing about weblogs and webdiaries is the ability to be who you are. Few people are willing to write:

"User100242's Weblog. Today unnamed parties were involved in an action I find wrong. I cannot specify details for fear of being branded or fired."

Considering that business can fire you just for having THC stored in your fat cells, this guy probably doesn't have a case but he certainly should. The higher-ups just have to declare him a liability, quote statistics that favor relapse and 'facts' that all drugs are bad and ride the drug war hysteria to safety.
posted by skallas at 1:33 PM on October 9, 2001


Considering that business can fire you just for having THC stored in your fat cells, this guy probably doesn't have a case but he certainly should.

They can, but more often than not they don't. Hell man, who amongst us that has grown up since '69 hasn't blazed up in their life? I was practically made an honoroary Columbian national when I was in college. And my bosses are fully aware of it - but they don't fire me. NOT because they are pro-dope, but because my current performance is good and, even if I were still firing up a blunt two steps outside the door, I am (I assume) a valuable employee who takes my responsibilities to my employers seriously. I simply don't give them reason to call my abilities into question. If I did, and they subsequently fired me, well who's fault is that? Mine, of course.

The more I think about this, the more I think this guy is bullshitting us. And in the end - if this guy MUST WRITE, maybe he should buy a notebook instead of posting his past on the "world wide" web.
posted by UncleFes at 1:54 PM on October 9, 2001


he has been drug-free for nearly two years

He says. And, of course, if by some chance he were still addicted, I'm sure he'd come right out and admit it. After all, you can believe everything you read on the Web.

Not to cast any aspersions on him, but I don't know him from Adam, and taking everything he says at face value seems unwise.
posted by kindall at 2:14 PM on October 9, 2001


Methinks too he doth protest too much. It doesn't scan. Why would anyone come to MetaFilter with this problem? Is his website that subversive? No. Is his firing that unusual? No. And the idea that the two are linked - no pun intended - is, to say the least, implausible.
Good luck to him seems just about appropriate, I'd say.
posted by MiguelCardoso at 2:25 PM on October 9, 2001


MiguelCardoso: umm, I'm not Mark, the guy who got fired. I just saw his blog and thought it was a good discussion-starter.
posted by Bluecoat93 at 3:03 PM on October 9, 2001


Let us see if we've heard correctly from the greed apologists here.... Not only does an employee have do "do a good job", but also must toe the official company line (kiss-ass/doublethink, etc). We mustn't give these noble managers any reason to "doubt our abilities" (all this while the vast majority of "managers" don't have the technical ability or sense that God gave a gnat).

Right. Surely they know what's best. And people who don't want to sign away their balls when they sign on should just take their skills elsewhere.

No wonder business is such an inefficient morass of mediocrity and banality.

"Managers" and "executives" and "businesspeople" do only ONE thing well, and that one thing they do well explains precisely why their noses never tan.
posted by fold_and_mutilate at 3:19 PM on October 9, 2001


I am very surpised by what I am reading here. I assumed that MetaFilter members were proponents of free speech.

A: You cannot fire someone for having been an addict. Its discriminatory. It simply won't hold up in court.

B: The process of "coming clean" and telling others that you were an addict is a critical component of the rehabilitation process. I would think that support would be the right thing to do. Some companies even pay for programs like this.

C: I don't mean to belittle the addiction, but what have we come to that a person who had a smoking and drinking problem cannot be associated with a company? Pretty lame. I would have thought that people could be more open than this.
posted by xammerboy at 3:24 PM on October 9, 2001


All the attention seems to be on what damage may or may not have been done to Mark Pilgrim's life and career. Happily, he seems to be doing swimmingly.

However, corporations win or lose based on the war for talent. This company probably lost in trying to appeal to the lower ends of the intellectual food chain (steno pool and pointy haired manager) . Of course they claim to believe in meritocracy.
posted by Real9 at 3:29 PM on October 9, 2001


greed apologists

Now there's TWO people trying to hurt my feelings. FnM, I'm shocked! Especially in light of our shared history of mutual admiration.

But for-profit companies are exactly that: for profit. Their mandate and mission is to generate the largest profit for the least cost in the most efficient way. What's wrong with that? It's called "Capitalism," and it works pretty good. Best economic method so far tried.

And people who don't want to sign away their balls when they sign on should just take their skills elsewhere


That's right. You can take your talents, skills and work to whichever employer you feel you like the best, without having to justify anything! You can do it on whim, for any old perverse reason that pops into your head. There are no laws restricting who YOU can sign on with, or resign from. Not one.

No wonder business is such an inefficient morass of mediocrity and banality.

True for a lot of it; false for some. So what? It's not like our little blogger's banality is any fancier than that of "business."

I assumed that MetaFilter members were proponents of free speech.

And I assumed that Metafilter members can tell the difference between "free speech" and "airing personal dirty laundry on an international scale."

You cannot fire someone for having been an addict. Its discriminatory. It simply won't hold up in court.

So the guy should hire a lawyer and sue to get his job back. What's the problem? People do exactly that every day. But personally, I think it's bullshit. No manager worth his title would have fired this guy if he was a good employee. Either the manager is a fool, the employee is lying, or both. I'm leaning toward both.

Some companies even pay for programs like this

Yep. I don't think this guy's boss or company is very good, which may be why he's not fighting his firing.

what have we come to that a person who had a smoking and drinking problem cannot be associated with a company?

We don't know what kind of company it is. Maybe it's the Mormon Church. Maybe it's Swank Magazine, and his problem was that he quit. Who knows? I certainly know that my company wouldn't necessarily find it funny if I was advertising that I was a spazz to our clients and competitors.

This company probably lost in trying to appeal to the lower ends of the intellectual food chain

Exactly right. If this guy was a good employee, it was foolish to fire him regardless of his personal life. If he was a loser employee, his personal life is only indicative of that, and there would have been sufficient grievance to fire him legitimately.

So, again: who's stupider?
posted by UncleFes at 3:49 PM on October 9, 2001


They can, but more often than not they don't.

The corporate america I'm familiar with will fire you if you continue to fail the drug test, not to mention you wouldn't even be hired in the first place. I don't think your company is very representative of the norm.
posted by skallas at 3:58 PM on October 9, 2001


Geez... why is everyone bending over backwards trying to divine whether this guy could legally be fired for the specific statements he makes in his blog? Haven't you heard of "at-will" employment agreements? Aren't you subject to them? I have been, at my last two jobs, since 1994 (i.e., they're nothing new, they've been around awhile).

As owen says on his page (see "Deja vu" comment above):

My boss explained to me that his company was an "At-Will" Employer, which basically gives him the right to fire anyone for any reason at any time, with no warning. Since I signed this agreement at the start of my employment, I have no legal recourse. Several Employment Law attorneys I've spoken with have agreed with this.

quonsar, I'll stand by my previous statement: that in his 'addiction' monologue, [he] foresaw the possibility of losing his job due to his own missteps. You can project your own dogma onto what other people say and ten-step-religiousify your interpretation of his plain language all you want; I'll let it speak for itself.
posted by verdezza at 5:13 PM on October 9, 2001


I'm not Benjamin, employee of Whatever-Whoever Company, nor will I ever be. I am Benjamin.

A company should not have the right to limit what you say outside of the workplace to anyone (barring, of course, trade secrets), but if you're not talking about your job then anything should be open game. It should be protected by the freedom of speech.

Of course, I never mention my companies name, or my co-workers, by direct names. If I write something about them, I always change their names. Their stupidity should not be aired by me, they do a damn well good enough job by themselves doing it.

But for my company to say, "we disagree with your weblog for ________ and ________ reasons" is tantamount to ruling your life inside and outside of work.

What if I were to publish I worship Satan (not that I don't, not that there's anything wrong with that IMHO), but if I did, should the company have a right to fire me? Of course not, because my religion would be protected. In the same instance, my writing should be protected as well.

When 5:00 comes, and I walk out the door, I am no longer "Employee of Major-Corporation-With-Tons-Of-Liability", I am an individual, and nothing less or more. I have a right to speak my mind, to freely associate with whom I wish to, and my employer should not be able to dictate my off hours. When I'm there, you're paying me, so go for it. When I'm not, stay out of my life.

In a corporate culture where more and more, our lives are defined by our jobs and how long we stay at work, we must take a stand to take our independent lives back. We are not automitons, we are free thinking individuals with our own ideas, concepts, and ideals; and no one or corporation can, or should be able, to take that away.
posted by benjh at 6:03 PM on October 9, 2001


I think it's a beautiful, touching description of someone's life both during and after he overcame his problem. I've printed it and hope that it can give me the strength to overcome my own. Personal postings should have no bearing on any work ethic or evaluation. If some of my customers knew my problems they would go elsewhere, but then some of them do and they recommend me highly... go figure!
posted by tilt at 6:04 PM on October 9, 2001


Also, at-will employment does not allow someone to be fired for certain protected things, such as religion, or association. Doing so is illegal. "I am firing you because you're Jewish." Think that would fly? I would equate this to tantamount to the same thing. Your thoughts are your beliefs, and speaks those beliefs should not give an employer recourse for termination.
posted by benjh at 6:05 PM on October 9, 2001


verdezza is right: In the United States, you are presumed to be employed "at will," meaning you can be terminated at any time for any reason, or no reason at law (the corollary is that you are free to leave employment at any time for any reason). That's the general principle -- it doesn't apply where the "reason" is discrimination (on the basis of race, age, sex, religion, national origin, and disability), or where the termination would violate "public policy" (think whistleblowers), or where there is a contract setting forth a different standard for termination (e.g., the "just cause" standard found in most union contracts).

And verdezza, owen was actually wrong -- it didn't matter that he signed the at will agreement (although that certainly didn't help). All employees are presumed to be employed at will unless they can prove to the contrary.

Sorry, benjh. While religion is a statutorily protected class, there is no protection for "speaking your mind." The 1st Amendment doesn't apply to private employers, only to governments. If it wants to, a private employer can fire you because it doesn't like your hair.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:13 PM on October 9, 2001


Oops: "no reason at law" should have been "no reason at all." Freudian slip.
posted by pardonyou? at 6:19 PM on October 9, 2001


fuck up? addict? man, this sounds like me and all my friends. not to undermine the dude's struggle, but i don't really think of smoking and drinking as horrible, horrible things. i mean, if the dude was a smack addict or something similar that's *REALLY* dangerous, i'd get it.

but beyond that?

not letting your parents know you smoke? shit, my mom bums smokes off me.

hm. i don't get it. maybe i'm just desensitized.

of course, the fact that he got canned for a blog is bullshit and i'd reccomend inviting his former boss out, getting him drunk and beating the shit out of him in an alley.

what's he gonna do -- fire you?

hehhehhehhehhehhehhehheh
posted by aenemated at 6:21 PM on October 9, 2001


I post what I want when I want. I've posted quite personal things and had to deal with the fall out because of them, but they are all online. All my posts since 1999 are still accesible, searchable, indexable, and readable.

If my current or a potential employer wanted to really get inside my head sure they could read that. But what is it going to accomplish/not accomplish? Point is that if they're that concerned with your private life, they're probably not a good employer anyway.

The day I started my current job, the IS psycho (who is no longer there thank god) went on for hours about how she could watch anyone's screen at any time (via VNC I found out) and all sorts of other threats.

Now, first off, I quickly shut down the VNC process because i don't need someone watching me. I get my work done way under budget and on time so who cares if i have an IM window open. Secondly I simply never sent a personal email with my company account.

The company and I have been so happy together (barring my salary issues) for 15 months now. I still keep my VNC shut off and I still use my personal laptop to send email. And they know about my website. And I've never once gotten a complaint about it from them.

Certain companies are so paranoid that they will do whatever they can to eliminate problems that aren't actually the problem. The companies that win new work based on solid performance are the ones to go for.
posted by eljuanbobo at 7:09 PM on October 9, 2001


I feel sorry for this guy, but I don't feel for this guy. He knew what was coming to him, and he was willing to take responsibility for the consequences of his actions, however unjust they would be.

if i had a company, i'd hire him. i've read his book. it's one of the best ways to learn python i've ever seen.
posted by AaRdVarK at 7:09 PM on October 9, 2001


The phrase "exercise of discretion" comes to mind. If you believe your job might be in jeopardy if you blog, you may - just may - want to consider keeping your wild and crazy personal life to yourself.

I disagree strongly. I don't think that one's financial relationship with a corporate entity should trump one's identity or one's individuality or one's humanity. You are paid to perform certain tasks during certain hours on certain days. They shouldn't get to own anything more of you than that.
posted by rushmc at 7:22 PM on October 9, 2001


rushmc, they only "own" your individuality or humanity if you let them. If you work for an employer you believes treats its employees unfairly, you have the ultimate recourse available to you: quit and find a new job. I know, I know, that ignores the "economic slavery" that binds us to our masters. Sorry, this is just one of many "choices" with which we're confronted in life. I don't buy the argument: "My employer is so unfair to its employees. But I shouldn't have to go somewhere else -- the corporation should change its ways." The modern reality is that a job is not an "entitlement"; we'd all do a lot better if we viewed it as a symbiotic commercial relationship -- nothing more nor less.
posted by pardonyou? at 8:06 PM on October 9, 2001


So where do YOU draw the line, pardonyou?? Is it okay for an employer to insist you do anything they want (work 90 hours a week for 40 hours' pay, submit to sexual harrassment, commit theft, insider trading, industrial espionage, lie, cheat, kick puppies) since the understanding is that you can always just quit? My argument is not that you do not have recourse if you are asked for too much by your employer, but that it is WRONG for them to ask, much less to expect it as their due.
posted by rushmc at 9:04 PM on October 9, 2001


When 5:00 comes, and I walk out the door, I am no longer "Employee of Major-Corporation-With-Tons-Of-Liability", I am an individual, and nothing less or more. I have a right to speak my mind, to freely associate with whom I wish to, and my employer should not be able to dictate my off hours. When I'm there, you're paying me, so go for it. When I'm not, stay out of my life.

Why doesn't the employer have the right to freely associate with the employees he or she wants, at least as a general principle if not an absolute right?

If an employee chooses to be a publisher in his spare time, an employer should be able to fire the guy if it doesn't want to be identified with the publication.
posted by rcade at 9:17 PM on October 9, 2001


rushmc, why don't you enlighten us as to what sort of relationship you have with your employer -- or school, or trust fund administrator, or whatever -- that allows you to be and do anything and everything you desire?
posted by verdezza at 9:31 PM on October 9, 2001


not does protect you, but rather, should protect you. and I really don't think the whole thing has been hashed out in court enough really to have a true case law on it.
posted by benjh at 4:54 AM on October 10, 2001


If an employee chooses to be a publisher in his spare time, an employer should be able to fire the guy if it doesn't want to be identified with the publication.

It's the assumption that an employee represents an employer when he is not actually working for that employer that is invalid. You only represent your employer during those hours for which you are contracted and reimbursed. If they want you to represent them 24/7, then they should make that explicit in your employment contract and pay you accordingly.
posted by rushmc at 5:57 AM on October 10, 2001


rushmc, why don't you enlighten us as to what sort of relationship you have with your employer -- or school, or trust fund administrator, or whatever -- that allows you to be and do anything and everything you desire?

I am mostly self-employed these days, but even when I work for others, I am always ready to walk away at any time that they demand more from me than I deem appropriate or moral.

But I find your question interesting. It sounds like you are implying that what I am saying makes sense to you but that it is not realistic given the "real world," where one must inevitably assume the position of a slave to one's employer, who holds all the cards and all the power. I hope that I am misinterpreting you. In any case, I am willing to pay a financial price from time to time to stand up for what is right. I do have to live with myself, yanno.
posted by rushmc at 6:00 AM on October 10, 2001


It's the assumption that an employee represents an employer when he is not actually working for that employer that is invalid.

If you allow yourself to be identified as an employee of a company in material you publish, you should be prepared to deal with the consequences if the employer doesn't support your publication.

Perhaps you'll be an employer at some point. How would you deal with an employee who published a web site that talks about his employment with you and also mentions his support for the North American Man-Boy Love Association?

This is an exaggerated example, of course, but I think it points out one of the good reasons an employer should be able to have some ability to choose who it wants to be identified with.
posted by rcade at 7:25 AM on October 10, 2001


Rushmc: Obviously there are things that society has determined are important enough to be protected by law. So no, one need not endure sexual harassment, be made to commit theft, work 90 hours for 40 hours' pay (of course, assuming you're hourly -- if you're salaried, them's the breaks). But as a general principal -- even for those things -- there is an easy solution. Find a new job. Economics will teach you that an employer that acts improperly towards its employees will suffer the consequences through high turnover. That high turnover will cause good employees to work for competitors, further hurting the business. The market puts pressure on employers to treat employees fairly, and I think most do. (And as a side note to this story, a termination is rarely so simple as "I was fired for my blog." Most likely this was a last straw. If he was a great employee, he would have been retained).
posted by pardonyou? at 7:28 AM on October 10, 2001


I think what's happening (and it's common, don't feel bad) is that people are confusing the right to speak freely with the idea that that free speech includes freedom from the consequences of certain speech. No one is saying that this guy does not have a right to say what he wishes. What happened is that the content of his writing generated certain consequences in his life. His rights were not infringed; his speech just provoked an effect.

You have a right to say what you want at any time in any forum you have access to. You do not have a right to be free of the consequences of your speech, any more than you have a right to be free of the consequences of your actions.
posted by UncleFes at 8:22 AM on October 10, 2001


If you allow yourself to be identified as an employee of a company in material you publish, you should be prepared to deal with the consequences if the employer doesn't support your publication.

This notion quickly devolves into absurdity. Do you support the right of your high school to rescind your diploma if you mention in your weblog that you went there? Should your parents be able to petition to have themselves removed from your birth certificate because you portray your mother in a negative light as nagging you to take out the trash? Etc., etc.

Perhaps you'll be an employer at some point. How would you deal with an employee who published a web site that talks about his employment with you and also mentions his support for the North American Man-Boy Love Association?

I am currently an employer. It depends on what you mean by "support," I suppose. So long as it wasn't criminal, I would probably ask him to post a declaration that his views were his own and didn't represent his employer, yadda yadda. And I'd keep a close eye on him to determine that he was suitable as an employee (which I would also do if I read on his weblog that he was a habitual drug user). I would NOT, however, ask that he remove his writings from the public eye.
posted by rushmc at 5:42 PM on October 10, 2001


You have a right to say what you want at any time in any forum you have access to. You do not have a right to be free of the consequences of your speech, any more than you have a right to be free of the consequences of your actions.

Sounds like something an authoritarian would love: "Okay, you've had your say here in the town square. Now come along quietly to prison for your torturing."

His forum was his own private weblog. That's quite a different thing from badmouthing his company to customers, for which the consequences would be clear, expected, and appropriate.
posted by rushmc at 5:45 PM on October 10, 2001


His forum was his own private weblog.

Um, no. As a weblogger, I'm consistently amused by fellow bloggers who don't seem to realize that anyone can read what they're writing. Of course, most of the people who are under this illusion are teenaged or twentysomething females who are shocked, shocked i tell you that people have been reading their personal, private journals that they publish on the world wide web and register with a hundred search engines.

It's something to keep in mind. Personally, when I blog, I know that not everyone is going to like what I have to say. I don't censor myself based on that, but before I click "post" I do ask myself - will I be able to live with having the person I discussed in that entry read what I've written?

Besides, this guy has his name, first and last, on his weblog. For crying out loud, this "private" weblog is the #1 result produced by a Google search for his name. This is not a chat at a dinner party; this is something that everyone, everywhere could read.
posted by isomorphisms at 7:15 PM on October 10, 2001


anyone can read what they're writing

Of course they can. And I'm sure he knows--and obviously wants--that. And anyone who publishes personal information where others can read it must accept in advance that some might react negatively to it.

But the space he creates with the words is, nonetheless, private and not to be interfered with, in the same way that a novel, which is also available for public inspection and interpretation, is a personal creation. And just as I support the right of novelists to write what they will and publish what they can, I support weblogger's freedom to do the same.
posted by rushmc at 7:44 PM on October 10, 2001


This notion quickly devolves into absurdity. Do you support the right of your high school to rescind your diploma if you mention in your weblog that you went there? Should your parents be able to petition to have themselves removed from your birth certificate because you portray your mother in a negative light as nagging you to take out the trash?

Those situations don't follow from the notion that an employer is generally free to hire and fire employees. The relationship between high school and student or womb and child are not analogous to the workplace.

You and I are closer to agreement than I thought, because you would ask an employee to edit his web site to make it clear it isn't work-related. You'd even monitor his site to see if he's an employee worth keeping.

As an employer, you'd like the ability to exercise some discretion in how you deal with an employee who is a publisher in his private time. I don't think that's unreasonable.
posted by rcade at 7:09 AM on October 11, 2001


You'd even monitor his site to see if he's an employee worth keeping.

Actually, I would NOT monitor it, or even seek it out. But neither would I pretend I didn't know something if it happened to come to my attention. The only editing I would ask for was a clarification that his views did not represent his employer's...and I might well not even bother, cuz anyone except an idiot or a lawyer would already assume that.
posted by rushmc at 9:20 PM on October 11, 2001


Sure, rushmc, so do I, and just as a novellist is going to viewed differently, and invited to speak at different places based on what they've published, so too is a weblogger going to have their blog viewed as an extention of the "so tell me about yourself" question asked at every job interview.
posted by isomorphisms at 2:44 PM on October 12, 2001


I feel very fortunate now that my boss simply requests that I don't mention clients by name, so I don't show up on search results for them.
posted by me3dia at 2:05 PM on October 17, 2001


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