Monday, January 18, 2010
My Big Brother
I hate to be the weird depressed blogger who brings everybody down in a state of anguished anxiety, but...
Something happened today that really pissed me off.
I was minding my own business at work when my coworker, a reporter in his late 40s, stood up and cleared his throat. I noticed that he had a Microsoft Word document open on his computer, with my name written near the top.
"I would like to have everyone's attention," he said. "I have been keeping a log of all of Jennifer's status updates on Twitter. And there is one I would like to read right now. Two weeks ago, Jennifer wrote 'haha I am still hung over from drinking with the girls last night. Haha.' Now what kind of message is Jennifer sending?"
I started laughing because I thought he was joking. My editor laughed too. He follows me on Twitter and often teases me about my status updates.
But the reporter turned and gave me a look that was so icy, I stopped laughing immediately.
"This is extremely serious, Jennifer," he said. "What kind of message are you sending?"
His close friend, a 57-year-old business editor, slammed his notebook down on his desk and glared at me. His face was extremely red and he was shaking. He walked up to me and pointed his finger at me, his face filled with rage.
"NEVER PUT STUFF LIKE THAT ON THE INTERNET!" he screamed at me. "NEVER! YOU HAVE SHAMED OUR NEWSPAPER!"
The newsroom got silent.
My mouth dropped open and my face turned dark red. I felt tears in the corner of my eyes. Um, what the fuck?
The editor continued, "THIS IS EXACTLY WHY THOSE DISGUSTING WEBSITES LIKE FACEBOOK AND TWITTER SHOULD BE BANNED FOR REPORTERS. COMPLETELY BANNED!"
My coworker, enjoying the ruckus he had caused, looked at me and smirked. And then he quickly looked concerned.
"Jennifer, if I were an employer, and I looked at you twitter account and saw this comment about being hungover, there is no way I would hire you. Absolutely no way. Getting drunk is disgusting. It's not the type of employee people want at their company."
I was just so stunned, I just stood there with my mouth open. No words would emerge.
I am a 26-year-old woman. I drink. I put it occasionally on my facebook and twitter. The last time I checked, that was not illegal or inappropriate. And if a company does not want to hire someone for having a normal status update like that on their personal twitter, then that is not a company I want to be a part of.
I should have said that to my two coworkers. But I couldn't. I was just too stunned.
My editor, also stunned and shaken because his status updates are worse than mine, tried to come to my defense.
"I think the greater question is why are you keeping a log of Jennifer's status updates?" he asked the reporter. "Are you cyber stalking her?"
But the question went ignored.
And my head has been reeling ever since.
First, I always keep my status updates on facebook and twitter to something I wouldn't mind my boss seeing. He follows me on both. He comments occasionally. I truly do not believe that saying I was hungover in a status update is inappropriate. Especially since my twitter and facebook are not in my full name. People I interview and my readers will never find them. And even if they did, they should hardly be surprised that I am a normal human being.
Second, my editor raised a VERY good point. Why is this reporter keeping a log of my status updates? How long has he been doing it? What is the point? To humiliate me randomly, like he did today? It really gives me chills to think about it. This is a reporter who I, up until today, got along with pretty well. He was always nice to me, although we don't really speak that often. His attack on me today was completely out of nowhere.
Also, for that business editor to say that journalists should be banned from two of the biggest forms of communication online is absolutely absurd. It makes no sense.
And finally, it made me realize how careful we all need to be these days concerning the Internet. There are people watching your every move. Employers do use facebook and twitter to size up job candidates. I've been aware of that since college. Be careful what you say because you never know who is looking.
I have since made my twitter updates private. I'm not going to erase any of my statuses because I don't believe I did anything wrong. Plus, my editor, the one whose opinion really matters, doesn't think I did anything wrong.
I'm just horrified that I was humiliated in such a mean fashion in front of all my coworkers.
And I'm a little scared of that reporter now and what other things he is possibly writing down about me...