IT Employment

More people are losing their jobs due to online missteps

Despite warnings from career experts around the globe, employees persist in posting personal and sometimes inappropriate information on their personal online accounts.

It's the kind of story that those who use Facebook and Twitter don't like to hear. Last week, CNN Mideast Affairs editor Octavia Nasr lost her post after tweeting her respect for a militant cleric.

In a statement, Ms. Nasr said that she'd exercised poor judgment as a representative of CNN when she tweeted that Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah was "one of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot."

Last month, veteran reporter Helen Thomas was pressured to retire after she made a comment at Jewish American Heritage Month celebration that was later posted online by the rabbi's son that many considered to be anti-Semitic.

Of course, these stories were prominent because they took place in the media by media folks, who have to present an objective face to the world.

But we've also heard about flight attendants who have lost their jobs because of inappropriate pictures posted on their personal Facebook accounts. In a country that allows companies to fire employees at will for any reason other gender or race, it's kind of a time bomb waiting to go off.

So where do we draw the line? As an employer, it wouldn't be pleasant to read something negative one of your employees had to say about your company. The impulse is to let that person go because there are other people out there who need a job, right? But do you want your workforce to be mindless automatons? Is it right to try to control what an employee says on his personal Facebook account even though it could be exposed publicly?

I don't know the answer, but I'm sure it's going to be playing out in the court system for years to come and decided on a case-by-case basis. Do I personally think a flight attendant should be fired for posting sexy pictures on her Facebook account? Not really. I wasn't aware that flight attendants had some kind of moral reputation to uphold. But if that person was a schoolteacher, yeah, I'd probably feel like posting sexy pictures was inappropriate.

Either way, posting online can be a slippery slope for the employed and those hoping to be employed. Exercise good judgment and only say things online that you would say in person in a company board meeting.

About

Toni Bowers is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and is the award-winning blogger of the Career Management blog. She has edited newsletters, books, and web sites pertaining to software, IT career, and IT management issues.

244 comments
JamesRL
JamesRL

http://news.nationalpost.com/2010/08/11/speeding-teen-convicted-after-web-boast/ Teen decides to brag about speeding at 140kmh in a 40 (85 in a 25 for our American cousins) on an online forum. Many forum members argue about safety and sanity, one figures out where the guy is from and contacts local police. Local police read the forum, confirm the identity, and canvas people on that street to see if there is a pattern. Kid gets arrested and pleas out to 6 months license suspension, 12 months probation. The kid obviously thought he was anonymous, but it didn't take much to track him down.

JandNL
JandNL

The thing is, if it is on the Internet, it must be considered "public," because no matter what (John Doe)'s own social network account settings are, (John Doe)'s friends' friends may include numerous people or groups (John Doe) does not suspect, including current or potential employers or other parties who could "raise a stink" over (his) postings. Be aware, and beware.

taylorstan
taylorstan

I guess the point is, are we employing people to complete tasks assigned to them within the specified specs...or are we hiring people to be compete the tasks and be your buddy too. Work is work, Life is life. I do not consider work a apart of my life. It is just like sleeping and breathing, a requirement for life. I guess employers need to get that part through their head. Maybe the work place would be better if we enjoyed life.

rogcoley
rogcoley

I don't know. Where I grew up "nekkid" meant no clothes on and you're up to something. Seriously, Ms. Nasr was fired by CNN. She is better off more than likely since CNN should be facing a lawsuit over sex discrimination any day. The VAST majority of people that have been let go in the past few months by CNN have been women. Throw in the fact that they seem to have hung their proverbial hat on clowns such as Rick "I'll just steal all the ideas for my show form the internet" Sanchez and CNN is listing seriously in the ocean of cable news. They are barely a shadow of the network they had become in the 90?s. Remember they were the first balloon brains to give Glenn "the unmedicated schizophrenic" a slot on the air. They have lost it in my opinion.

dinotech
dinotech

While we are talking about using Facebook or Fwitter for online missteps, Shirley Sherrod was videotaped making racial statements against a farmer who was seeking her help. I've never heard of someone getting fired so fast, having to pull over in her car to do it. That's a lawsuit for sure, but it just adds to this discussion because you have to be careful what you say and where you say it. I don't want to focus on the story but on the medium; the medium used doesn't matter. Facebook, Twitter, radio, television. If you have character and integrity, you won't have to worry about making those mistakes (or at least not often since we are all human). It also shouldn't matter what position we hold in the company, whether we are going to be on Glenn Beck or Fox News, or whether we didn't really mean what we said (why did we say it in the first place?). A person with high integrity and character will know what to say when they say it and will mean what they say. (cf santeewelding, billfranke, palmetto, et. al)

mikifinaz1
mikifinaz1

I think that social networking is great, it is just another way to weed out bone heads.

jck
jck

Occupation matters not. A teacher should be able to post pics just like a flight attendant. If the children are so young they shouldn't see pics of their teacher in a bathing suit or something, they shouldn't be on Facebook at all. It's not a school teacher's responsibility to parent your children. It's their job to educate them...just like it's the flight attendant's job to get them a blanket and pillow and something to drink. I could understand saying a priest/pastor/rabbi shouldn't post those kinds of pics. But, professionalism is not a requirement to lose your gender or humanity. Not that I'm asking to model swimsuits myself. :^0

techrepublic
techrepublic

What about freedom of speech?!? I will not have a Facebook account, and will not tweet. Tweeting is for the birds ;). In a country where freedom of speech is gradually becoming a thing of the past, if you want to find out anything about me, the only way is to follow me around for a few weeks or so.

Ocie3
Ocie3

[i]" Last week, CNN Mideast Affairs editor Octavia Nasr lost her post after tweeting her respect for a militant cleric. In a statement, Ms. Nasr said that she'd exercised poor judgment as a representative of CNN when she tweeted that Ayatollah Mohammad Hussein Fadlallah was 'one of Hezbollah's giants I respect a lot.'"[/i] It seems to me that what she probably meant by what she wrote is that the Ayatollah was a good source of information for the news that she reported, or, more likely, as a "background" source who helped her understand news events about which she was reporting. All professionally competent journalists have sources of both types, and even when they specialize in a particular subset of the news, [i]e.g.,[/i], commercial business reporting or political reporting, they always need multiple sources and often the opinions and ideas of "background" analysts. Perhaps it was poor judgment to reveal that person as a source, but it doesn't seem to me to imply that there has been any bias in the content of her reports of the news. Still, disclosing that you even have a channel of open communication with "the enemy" is tantamount to treason in some eyes.

kjohnson
kjohnson

People are entitled to a private life, and that includes putting pictures of themselves onto social networking sites. There were two examples of people being caught putting pretty pictures of themselves on the Net in Britain in June 2009. In one case a teacher, Natasha Gray, was found to have entered the Britain's Sexiest Teacher competition and posted photographs of herself to a modelling site. Her headmaster tried to get her sacked, although I believe he failed (and quite right too.) The other was Julie Kirkbride, who posed for some nice pictures rolling in the hay. However, she had no need to worry about being sacked, because nobody thought of her as a role model. At the time, she was a member of Parliament, so she charged the cost of the photographic session, ?1,040, to her generous expense account. Then she lost her seat in the election although probably due more to her crackpot opinions than to the existence of her pin-up photographs. My version of the story is here: http://it.toolbox.com/people/k.r.johnson/journal-entry/3679

Garden Gnome
Garden Gnome

This is not a 'misstep'. It is a self-inflicted injury. And when I was in the British Army, that was a criminal offence.

Jaqui
Jaqui

[b] Do I personally think a flight attendant should be fired for posting sexy pictures on her Facebook account? Not really. I wasn?t aware that flight attendants had some kind of moral reputation to uphold. But if that person was a schoolteacher, yeah, I?d probably feel like posting sexy pictures was inappropriate.[/b] When I was attending Port Moody Senior Secondary, one of the teachers was frequently mistaken for one of the sexy 17-18 year old students. [ This teacher was actually the most attractive female in the school, including the students. ] I kind of remember teachers are people also, and have lives outside of the schools. I don't think Facebook is the appropriate place for sexy pictures for anyone, since it is open to all ages. I have to question the judgment of anyone posting them there. some place like plentyoffish [ dating website ] or fetlife [ kinky facebook ;) ] would be more appropriate, there are controls to stop children from accessing. [ to some extent, we all know online access restrictions can easily be circumvented. ] edit for tags

billfranke
billfranke

Excellent article. Interesting responses. The most interesting aspect of the responses is how insular most of your readers seem to be. They suffer from serious delusions about social life and individual rights, especially the Americans who believe that the Bill of Rights and its First Amendment give all Americans -- and, indeed, all human beings everywhere (the Declaration of Independence did say, after all, that "all men are created equal", and it was published, so it must be true, right?) -- the right to do and say anything they want without being called to account for it. There is no satisfactory "where" for that line that must be drawn on the limits of what employees and employers can do and what each group can do about the other. All such lines are drawn in the sand, and when the political weather changes, the old lines get washed away and redrawn somewhere else. Politics is a social activity; business is a social activity; public behavior is social activity. Social activity is observed, judged, and acted on by your friends and neighbors, by strangers, by your employers, by the government, and even, sometimes, by the non-human forms of animal life in your neighborhood. Let's take a look at some of the arguments made here. 1. "I don't think that a company has the right to fire someone over their actions or voicing personal beliefs as long as those actions or words remain disconnected from the business." This is an interesting argument, and I very much want to agree with it, but there is a logical flaw that ruins it. If you are the type of exhibitionist who cannot help posting your opinions, statements of belief, or pictures of yourself in any sort of unflattering and questionable position (context), you run the risk of being identified. Most humans are voyeurs and love to watch what others do; that's one of the reasons that porn, movies, TV shows, and fiction are popular: it allows us to peep through the windows of others, real or fictional. And once you are identified, your connection to the business you work for can be made. While I agree that what you do, think, or say may have no effect on how well you do your day job, as soon as some (or maybe even only one -- the big one) of your company's customers find out who you are and who you work for, whatever you do and say in public (those are the operative words: "in public") are irrevocably connected to the business. If your company's customers object to your public exhibitionism, then your boss is going to have to act to prevent the company from losing business. Don't forget that business is all about making money, especially for the stockholders and the executives, and not about supporting the psychological weaknesses of its employees, most of whom are fungible. So I cannot agree with the conclusion of this argument: "If I want to appear nude on the internet, what ever your views are to that, it's my decession and my buisness." If your decisions about public behavior affect your company's bottom line, your ass is grass and your boss has every right to fire you before your irrepressible exhibitionism costs everyone else in the company their jobs. This is just a social reality and a business reality. Freedom cuts in many ways. 2. "I would not want my children being taught by someone who appears in the flesh on facebook." Nor would I, but this is just one criterion for exclusion. I wouldn't want my children to grow up believing that "letting it all hang out" anywhere and everywhere is appropriate and desirable behavior all the time. Somebody else mentioned Paris Hilton. I wouldn't want her to teach my impressionable children either. On the other hand, there are lots of people who seem perfectly respectable in public until their hypocrisy is exposed. My favorites are the religious and political leaders who have secret sexual fetishes that eventually come to light when they're discovered soliciting male or female prostitutes in public places after they've campaigned against this kind of "immoral" behavior. Too often, the righteous are merely self-righteous. The only way we have to determine whether someone is fit to "impart life values" to our children is by observing how they live their public lives. None of my high school teachers (back in the 1950s) ever appeared "in the flesh on facebook", but two of them were homosexuals (not a good thing to be publicly labeled as in the 1950s) who taught English and drama. We all knew that, and we loved them because they were good teachers and decent men. They were never preachy or moralistic or self-righteous, unlike our religiously devout and morally unyielding and very heterosexual principal -- the one with the broomstick projecting from his rectum -- who was always in the business of consciously imparting life values to students (e.g., one day he told me and a classmate that we couldn't say "What the heck are you doing?" in our play script because "heck" was a euphemism for "hell" and we couldn't say "What the hell are you doing?" in our play). The fact is that all adults "impart life values" to our children, whether we like it our not. We just hope that those who are paid to do so (e.g., school teachers and clergy) and those who are elected and otherwise selected (politicians, business leaders, and star athletes) behave acceptably in public and aren't sexual predators or thieves or serial killers in private. Too often we are disappointed. But too often parents fail to "impart [the proper] life values" to their children, and they grow up to become sociopaths, just like their parents or worse. Kids cannot be -- and generally probably shouldn't be -- protected from reality. This is already much too long a response, so I'll cut it here and respond individually to the more interesting comments.

Gis Bun
Gis Bun

I knew of one person who called in sick but was dumb enough to post pictures on Facebook with her friend doing whatever on the SAME day she was suppost to be sick. It wasn't the only nail in the coffin for her but possibly the biggest. [She had her boss as a "friend" which sealed the deal.]

ljl_geek
ljl_geek

Seriously, I have two identities online. This one, my professional self, is a bit acerbic but generally professional. I try to stay out of politics and controversial issues, since they have nothing to do with my regular occupation. (Well, digital freedom, spam reduction, and employment issues do, but that's about it.) I have a Facebook page, but I hate it because it's so shallow and so disrespectful of privacy. I'm on LinkedIn, and a few technical forums and user groups. I have a web page and a couple seldom updated blogs. Then there is my pseudonym. That's the identity that has my hobbies, my games, my politics, my religion, my opinionated rantings, my stupid meme stuff, my lifestyle posts, and all of that malarky. That's the persona I post my opinions about $boss and $company as, carefully removing the names to protect *their* privacy. I made the decision to maintain a "Nom De Net" (as I saw one person state it) when I first encountered UseNet years ago and saw trolls posting people's names and addresses, and contacting their employers to complain about their posts online. I saw people lose jobs and have to move because of net fueled stalkers. I lurked, and I learned from the misfortunes of others. I was routinely excoriated for "hiding" behind a pseudonym, because the trolls couldn't hunt me down and harass me. This type of thing is yet one more reason why I am actually not very comfortable posting anything online under my 'legal' identity. As it is, there is too much trivia available out there that I no longer can control (thank you, Facebook.)

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

is my business, not that of my employer. My employer buys a certain amount of my time, daily. Anytime not paid for by my employer is outside the bounds of his/her need to know. For this reason, I avoid all sorts of employment opportunities. Leave me the hell alone and keep your nose to yourself if I'm not on your paid time.

portable
portable

As someone who was a business owner my feeling is that unless you are a Casino, a Bar, or a Strip club, an employee of yours posting suggestive pictures, or making inappropriate comments, could have a negative effect on your business. You have the right to present the image you want for your company. But be up-front about it. Tell new-hires that (whatever you deem inappropriate) is grounds for dismissal because it could reflect badly on your business. So you say if only one of 50 employees does it how will that make a difference? Maybe it will maybe it won't but if you loose a $100K contract because someone didn't like your salesperson posing nude... The only fair way is to be up front, and a zero tolerance policy. Otherwise how do you determine "how much is too much"? And remember, once something is on the Web it is there forever. You will NEVER get it erased everywhere. There is not a punishment for every wrong deed, But there is a consequence for EVERY action. Be prepared to take that consequence (good or bad) if you do the action.

msmerryus
msmerryus

My granddaughter reads my facebook. I don't write anything on there she couldn't read. If you follow that rule, your employer shouldn't read anything they would object to.

controlfreak777
controlfreak777

I think this world has become a haven for the wimps... Grow some...

zentross
zentross

Toni, You hit it on the head about saying online only what you would say in the board room, but I would take the description a little further. Be clear in what you say, back up your observations with facts or clear observational examples to illustrate your points. Above all -- Maintain the golden rule in online citizenship; Meaning why do it online when you would not do it in public period?

Mandolinface
Mandolinface

If you're an older worker, think twice about posting ANY photo that might turn up in a search. Prospective employers can't ask your age, but if they see you're over 40, you might not get to the interview stage.

jgagnon
jgagnon

Sorry, I do not post to these threads often so I have copied this a couple of times... Many comments have moved beyond freedom of speech... Although the comments being posted are vaired with logical sounding points and counterpoints, many of you are missing the point. This isn't a matter of Freedom of Speech. The Government isn't stepping in and incarcerating someone for speaking their minds or posting legal immages. The misnomer here is that many confuse the Freedom of Speech or Expression with a Freedom from Consequence. This fictitious freedom has never existed at any time, in any form of Government. One of the strengths and at the same time a great weakness of the internet age is the extensible concept of anonymity. This more than anything else has perpetuated the notion of freedom from consequence, because if we are not doinging it person...in front of witnesses, we somehow feel removed from the consequences of our actions.

Barshalom
Barshalom

A person's mouth can get them in hot water. This is nothing new, check out what the bible says: Proverbs 13:3 Those who are careful about what they say protect their lives, but whoever speaks without thinking will be ruined. (New Century Version)

zentross
zentross

When you view a linkedin profile, you not only see the individual, but how that individual is connected to you (i.e. 1st tier or direct contact, 2nd tier contact or friend of a friend, and 3rd tier contact.) Once you collect a few hundred contacts, you may begin to notice that it gets more difficult to find someone beyond the 3rd tier level. Unless one keeps a circle of friends small and intimate and those friends are likewise very discriminating and net savvy, it remains in our best interests to err on the side of caution with all 'public' communication.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

http://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/career/?p=2216&tag=content;leftCol If you hadn't heard of anyone getting fired that fast, you also haven't heard of anyone receiving an apology and an offer to return to work that quickly either. In case you hadn't heard, the original clip was taken completely out of context. The full video has been posted and it includes Sherrod saying her original attitude was wrong. She's also been supported by the farmer she described in the out-of-context clip.

Paymeister
Paymeister

I submit that occupation DOES matter if one's occupation by its nature is pushing one message and your actions push a different message. Frankly, hypocrisy is ugly. Scripture demands that pastors have a family that is 'in order' - if a guy can't lead his family, he's unqualified to lead his flock. I would say that *anyone* in a position of authority should conduct his life so that the spotlight he shines on others during his official duties will not display a different message if shined on himself. Pastors shouldn't be messing around with their female parishoners; cops shouldn't deal drugs; moms shouldn't lie, teachers who demand decency in the classroom should behave decently; elected officials demanding transparency in government should themselves be transparent... um...wait...

mcbinder
mcbinder

That's what all of this is about. In the USA, you are free to say almost anything you wish without fear of CRIMINAL prosecution. What is forgotten is that there may be PERSONAL consequences to what you say. I can say anything I want (that is not libelous) about my company. And they can, if they don't like it, ask that I leave their employ. We need to think through and be ready to accept the consequences of what we say, do and post. mcb

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

What about it? The 1st Amendment guarantees your right to express yourself. It doesn't protect you from the repercussions of that expression. It doesn't require those who disagree with you to continue doing business with you, or to continue providing you a platform, or to continue sending you Christmas cards. Say whatever you want; I'll support your right to say it. First, consider whether your position is worth the potential costs.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Thought better of saying anything, and deleted my original, detailed reply. Had to do with the president of a local Hell's Angels chapter looking at indictment of multiple murders, involving a well. Everybody concerned with this is not saying everything they know. It was a...graceful...exit.

NickNielsen
NickNielsen

Does she respect him or his opinions? Respecting the person would, I think, make her a better journalist. added: The other, not so much...

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

"People are entitled to a private life, and that includes putting pictures of themselves onto social networking sites." How can you consider posting anything in a public forum consistent with having a private life? Does having a private life also include entering your pictures in a photo contest or judged artistic competition? What about posting 'Happy Birthday' on a billboard? Writing 'I love you' with soap on your lover's car windows? Having a screaming fight in a subway station? You can't post personal information in a public forum and have any expectation of privacy. Social sites are public by their very nature; that's the 'social part. They were intentionally designed that way. Unless the user takes the actions necessary to secure his account to limit access to only those people he wants to see it, he should be aware everyone on the web can see what he's up to. Even after tightening down the security, he shouldn't be surprised when the site host sells his personal information.

dinotech
dinotech

My response was going to be similar to Bill's albeit much shorter ;) I agree with everything Bill has stated here: I'll even add one other area that needs to be said in context of our discussion. Email. Email is also tied to your business and if you use Email for something other than business related activities your company can be sued, employees terminated, and your career jeopardized. Another issue is the public domain of the Internet. Once you post anything on the Internet for others to see, you waive your right for privacy. This is one of the issues surrounding Google and other search engines. Once you start a search, a person with the right knowledge could find out what you are searching on. Depending on the investigation, the type of search, and the current law being used for the basis of the investigation, you can be accountable for that search. It is imperative that you separate your personal social media life from your professional media life by creating a pseudo-name for yourself or just locking down who has the ability to view your content. It isn't a fool proof method of privacy, but it sure beats having your content pop-up by your last name. The best way to avoid all of this is to have high integrity and character; know what to say, where to say it, and understand that character is what you are in the dark.

santeewelding
santeewelding

I have been largely ignoring it. As old as you put yourself -- close to my age -- I'm surprised you have been following it at all. The matters are well behind you. Unless, you pontificate for a living, say, in a school of your own making. Your English, and some of your expressions, too, sound eerily like an American New England upbringing, which is where I learned mine.

zentross
zentross

While I do my best to uphold company policy and professional conduct, employers are risk averse and will look at everything they can find out about you before taking a chance on committing to an offer of employment. This includes social networking and credit reports in addition to any professional references that you offer.

JamesRL
JamesRL

In a case like Tiger Woods, where he is representing a company's products, his contract has a clause that outlines what can happen if his private life starts to impact his public life. CEO/CIO/Board of Director level types also have that typoe of clause as well as higher level managers. If you can live with the implications of that kind of thing, more power to you. James

kjohnson
kjohnson

It is a generally accepted truth that if you go into a man's bedroom and look in the drawers and cupboards, you will see things that you do not wish to find. The internet is not public in the sense that, say, the High Street, the railway station and the recreation ground in your town are public. The internet, or at least the web, is clearly and explicitly divided up into sites, with clear delimiters. People only go to sites whose members post (say) nude or partially nude photographs if they are looking for photographs of that kind. That is, people do not stumble upon compromising pictures by random chance. People find compromising pictures because they went in search of them. A very fair reply to "Why is there a nude picture of you on Nudebook?" is, "If you didn't want to find nude pictures of your job applicants, why did you go in search of them?" By the way, I invented the name Nudebook, but I find it has been cybersquatted.

kjohnson
kjohnson

I disagree entirely with Baporopat. Younger HR staff and recruiters believe that people aged forty are decrepit, wrinkly and generally fumbling and incompetent. This makes it harder for over-forties to get a job than it ought to be. A photograph makes it clear that at forty years of age you're still bright, fresh, fit, strong, and completely capable of a job of work. What's more, unlike a spotty herbert fresh from college, you bring twenty-odd years of life experience to the job.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Many people also confuse freedom of speech with a right to other's distribution methods. It's not censorship if a site deletes your comments or refuses to carry your content. Others are forbidden from interfering with your right to speak, but no one is obligated to give you a platform.

dinotech
dinotech

...it still lends itself to this article based on principle alone which is to make sure we know what we want to say before we say it. We certainly want to make sure if we are being recorded. Yes, the comments were taken out of context, but that has happened on both political sides of the fence. The point here is that the speech lend itself to a racial profile and she mentioned party affiliation which is illegal for a government employee to do. This is why we are discussing Facebook, Twitter, et. al. We all need to be careful in any medium. D

jck
jck

[i] I submit that occupation DOES matter if one's occupation by its nature is pushing one message and your actions push a different message. Frankly, hypocrisy is ugly.[/i] Hypocrisy is saying it's okay for a flight attendant to do it, but not a teacher. A flight attendant, in fact, has more authority than a teacher. He/she can have you arrested by federal aviation authorities and local police, they command the attention of hundreds to thousands of adults per day, etc. So, hypocrisy is saying it's okay for one profession and not the other. [i] Scripture demands that pastors have a family that is 'in order' - if a guy can't lead his family, he's unqualified to lead his flock.[/i] Hence why I said I can understand a pastor/priest/rabbi being expected not to do it. They have a specific moral compass to follow according to their profession due to its religious nature. Neither being a teacher nor a flight attendant requires you to be a specific religion in all cases. [i] I would say that *anyone* in a position of authority should conduct his life so that the spotlight he shines on others during his official duties will not display a different message if shined on himself. Pastors shouldn't be messing around with their female parishoners; cops shouldn't deal drugs; moms shouldn't lie, teachers who demand decency in the classroom should behave decently; elected officials demanding transparency in government should themselves be transparent... um...wait... [/i] So, pastors can mess around with their male parishioners? Dads should lie? Sounds almost like this is turning toward "Women shouldn't..." talk. But, you have your ways and I have mine.

Paymeister
Paymeister

I worked for the Census ten years ago, and in a lunchroom discussion I was asked, "So according to Scripture my boyfriend who doesn't believe in Jesus is going to hell." I said, "Well, I don't know that I would and blurt it out quite as abruptly as that, but, yes, that's what it says." A passerby took offense (still a bit puzzled about that), and reported me to the Director, who called me in and ordered me not to have such discussions like that in the future. My response was, "Well, Sir, I will certainly do my best to keep my mouth shut on such issues, but if I honestly feel the Lord would have me speak I will go ahead and do so. But I realize that if I do, it is highly likely that I will lose my job." It kind of stopped him for a bit for me to effectively pull rank on him like that, but he saw that I was perfectly willing to take the loss of my job as the consequence if I were to defy his orders. He and I didn't quite shake hands on it, but there was an understanding that any consequences would be an "honest gotcha" and I would have no quarrel with him.

kjohnson
kjohnson

I still don't understand why people go in search of compromising photographs and then complain when they find them. Perhaps this is one of the things that people, including staff, job applicants, recruiters and employers, are going to have to get used to. People will simply have less privacy than they used to have. People will have to put up with a world where their every conversation, every photograph taken of them, every casual remark, every bus ticket, love letter, curriculum vitae or shopping list, will be recorded and published.

billfranke
billfranke

Northern New Jersey upbringing, New England Ivy League university education. Pontificating is one of my hobbies. I figure that I'm old enough and, in my own little way in my own little pond, successful enough to get away with it. I may be wrong, of course, but sometimes I need to express my opinions in public. It's gratifying to see a thoughtful response. Thank you. :-) I don't think that the issues Toni Bowers discusses in this article are behind me. Although I now work for myself and so have no employers other than my clients (they used to be students of English as a foreign language, but now I'm a medical editor) to answer to, I'm raising my second child (he's 14, I'm 67) and have to deal with who "impart[s] life values" to him. He's Taiwanese (I'm incorrigibly American, except that I refuse to participate in the culture wars that have been tearing the nation apart since 1980, when I left the USA because I could no longer bear to live in my native land), so I have to juggle what I see as important life values for my son's survival and success in Taiwan's society and other life values necessary for becoming a critical thinker and reader, two skills not taught here as a matter of course. My son wants to be an IT professional of some stripe or other (I used to be a network engineer and have been reading about and messing with computers and IT issues since 1987). He spends even more time on his PC than I used to on mine, and he uses a Chinese operating system, so I sometimes have problems understanding how to repair it and often cannot understand what sites he visits other than online game and YouTube.com pages (his primary interests at the moment). He used to have a blog -- maybe he still does -- but I discouraged him from posting photographs of himself and his family. He understood why I objected to making his life too public, and chose not to post photos that were too personally revealing. He doesn't have a Facebook page (his choice, not mine) and doesn't seem to want one either. So, while the issues discussed in this thread are not a problem for my life, they are a potential problem for my number two son's.

kjohnson
kjohnson

...yes, and the events of November 2009 showed Mr Woods's sponsors how foolish they were to expect their staff to be paragons of a morality to which they (the staff) do not subscribe.

boxfiddler
boxfiddler

I'm not willing to pay the price for fame, fortune, power, influence. I am willing to pay the price for living my life as I see fit with as little interference as possible. I think not many are.

dinotech
dinotech

I appreciate the link. It's a sad state of affairs for media in all forms.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I just wanted to point out the other discussion and details in case you weren't aware of them.

santeewelding
santeewelding

Your disclosure about a 14-year-old son puts everything instantly into perspective for me. You care because you have to and I am glad you do. Mine, she is 42. I am 67, also. It's how I see.