Facebookers Beware: I Got Fired For Something I Posted Online
Ah, the perils of the workplace. A guy can’t even watch porn on a government-issued computer these days without risk of getting fired.* And the outlook is even gloomier when you’re a recent graduate: those of us unlucky enough to be graduating in a recession will most likely be facing lower earnings – not just this year or next year, but for our entire lives – than those who graduate in times of prosperity. As if it’s not enough to be entering into the workforce during a soul-crushing recession, recent college grads have yet another potential foe waiting to thwart their plans to, you know, make money to buy food. That foe? The internet.
“Foe” perhaps is not the best descriptor – “fair-weather friend” might be more appropriate. Find a job via Craiglist, get fired from the same job thanks to Facebook; this scenario, or ones similar to it, are becoming more and more common as bosses are paying more attention to their employees’ lives as documented on the internet. An internet security firm called Proofpoint found that the percentage of employees in the States reported to have been fired because of “social media misuse” has doubled since last year. To name a few examples: a waitress was fired for complaining on Facebook about a paltry tip, a British girl for griping on Facebook that her job was “omg! so dull!!”, and a young lady named Hannah McCain was fired for casting her place of employ in a negative light in a column she wrote for The Faster Times. Yes, the internet is indeed a fair-weather friend, and I can personally attest to that.
It was a learning experience! Given the whole hindsight 20/20 thing, I realize it was less than tactful of me to expose the unfortunate nature of cubicle work online where my boss could find it. But when she told me, “You must know we watch out of this sort of thing,” my blank stare was genuine. I had no idea. Only after I was fired did I recall her – gleefully? – recounting the tale of one of her friends, also a manager, though at another college, firing an employee over a Facebook post. The had post compared the feeling of soliciting money to that of prostituting oneself (or maybe that wasn’t exactly what it said… In any case, the message was less than flattering).
This isn’t about my boss, though. It’s about me, the invincible twenty-one-year-old who didn’t think twice before making snide comments about her employment in a public domain. Modern discretion hasn’t adapted to its new arena, an arena that makes personal information wider and more easily accessible than it’s ever been. My advice: only complain about your job online if you’re looking to leave said job. This is kind of along the whole lines of the kind of stunt my friend pulled a few years ago where she didn’t shave – or shower – for a whole month, hoping it would push her boyfriend into breaking up with her. You know what? It worked. I’ve got nothing against a little armpit hair (I’d be a hypocrite if I did), but modern online personas – who, not even at their worst, are displaying sloppy drunken photos and publishing any and all incoherent rants – are the cyber-equivalent of some smelly old guy with a paunch who lets it all hang out.
* Absolutely ridiculous: SEC Porn Problem: Officials Surfing Sites During Financial Crisis, Report Finds
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