Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Uglification and Derision: Outrage, Part 1

I just read this over at Queen Mediocretia of Suburbia's blog (I read it on a recommendation and tried not to love it, because I'm a contrary and perverse creature, but I failed. It's lovable, dammit). Apparently a St. Louis sex blogger who blogged anonymously and whose blog mentioned nothing about her job, was fired because her boss somehow came across her blog and was disgusted. That's it -- you're fired because you blog about sex and I find that disgusting.

'Scuse me? No, really, EXCUSE ME? Yeah. I know. The internet is forever. Anything you say online can and will be used to flagellate you by any asshole who comes across it in the present and future. And if your boss fires you for a stupid-ass reason that doesn't happen to be a stupid-ass reason that falls under various categories of discrimination, you have to take it up the (butt-plugged or not) ass (yeah, that's a little crude for me, but it's germane to the plot so I'm leaving it in). And I can't say I find it all that surprising. A lot of Americans, and Canadians, and Corporate America (and Canada) especially have a long rich tradition of hysterical repression and denigrating people who stand out, who push the borders of 'polite' discourse, who say words like 'vagina' in public. I just want to go on record saying I think it's... what's the word... DUMB.

Some people think the internet leads people to share too much. I think the people who share too much have always shared too much. The fact that they now have this medium to do it with and now they can share too much with waaaay more people? Yes, it does bear thinking about. But the hysteria on the part of the shared-with needs to be addressed too. Hey, everyone who's offended by sex blogs, or things people say on Facebook: there's this nifty thing you can do that should help -- it's called looking away.

A while ago there was a big kerfuffle about something a nurse had written on Facebook. A doctor had written in her status update that she was sleepy and wished the baby she was delivering would come soon. Her friend, a nurse, responded something admittedly crude and off-putting, like 'oh fuck it, just cut her'. Someone else who was the doctor's friend took great offense and described her own horrific c-section, which resulted in the nurse reacting defensively, blah blah blah. Some bloggers took up the cause, urging that someone should report her to her hospital and/or try to have her fired.

Was the comment inappropriate? The definition of 'appropriate' is 'especially suitable or compatible'. In the context of discussing a woman's labour and delivery? Pretty f*ckin' inappropriate. In the context of Facebook, a vast internet playland of frivolousness and frippery? Things become a little more slippery. Yes, the comment was stupid and offensive. People say stupid and offensive things all the time. Should she have been fired for a stupid, offensive comment that she made while not in her workplace? If she made the comment at a party or in a bar and was overheard, would people be grouping together planning to report her to her boss? Do we just ban all people with any propensity for making stupid offensive comments from the internet? Is it free speech, or is it only free speech for people who don't regularly make giant ass-hats of themselves when they open their mouths (speaking as one who has regularly been asshattish)?

To be continued....

7 comments:

theycallmejane said...

I am continually amazed at what people will post online but most of all, how it can (and will) be used against you! This is such a different time we live in!

Rachel Cotterill said...

Part of the reason I blog so un-anonymously is that it keeps me in mind of the fact that anyone, at any point in the future, could read the things I write. I wouldn't want to say anything on the internet that I wouldn't be happy to print on a T-shirt. But that's just me, and I support free speech, even when that involves people making crude and inappropriate jokes. Just as long as I don't have to listen.

the queen said...

You can't quit me.

Amber said...

I read the Facebook thread with the nurse. I found it offensive. However, I suppose it's her right to say it. Just as it's the right of other folks to call her on it. Forming a mob to have her fired? Maybe over the line. Yelling at her on Facebook for a tasteless joke? Possibly to be expected.

This is why I try to remember to only say things online that I can own. Because you have to own your words in a particular way when they're written. But I still expect some understanding from others. I hope that no future potential employer will rule me out because they have differing personal views than I've shared on my blog. And I think an anonymous sex blog falls into that category. This is not about work, why should it matter?

Patti Murphy said...

Hear hear. Or should I say, "read, read"?

You're fierce. Can't wait to read the rest of it.

Julie said...

i was just at a social media conference and it truly is sllippery slope. pretty much the reason why most employers don't let you any where near social media sites during the work day.

Jazz said...

What a great post to start reading your blog with....

If the same thing had happened with that nurse in a bar, people would have said, " what a shitful thing to say" and left it at that. It's utterly ridiculous that people must always always watch what they're saying now...

For my part I pretty much let loose, but I don't blog about work (oh the stories I could tell), I don't blog about family (ditto) and I'm anonymous - my close friends and family know who I am, but that's about it.

But I do censor myself to a certain extent... just because of the nurses and the sex bloggers who get into trouble because of their views. It's ridiculous actually.