The Facebook Generation

Alternately titled, “Airing Grievances.”

Someone I know was unceremoniously (and possibly wrongfully; I don’t know) fired from her job a little while ago.

She’s not taking it well.

This has been difficult for me because it’s brought back all of the feelings I had been working so hard to compartmentalize over the last seven months.  Hearing about what happened to her brought them all rushing in again – the anger, the disappointment, the pain and frustration.  She’s coping with all of those feelings, too, and it’s been hard watching her go through that while I work on repackaging all the yuck that her dismissal brought back up for me.

The difference between her and me, though, is that I’ve been dealing with my ugly feelings in a mostly quiet, mostly private way.  She’s decided to take her anger public, though, and has launched a pretty forthright campaign on facebook, where she’s still “friends” with a lot of people at her old job.

I’m still trying to work out how I feel about that.

On the one hand, I admire her.  She is fighting against an injustice and making public those policies and behaviors that create an untenable environment.  She’s trying to spur the people who are left to action; she wants them to see what she sees, not just the nice, polite, politically correct face that gets put on for outside observers.

On the other hand, I’m made really uncomfortable by the raw and bitter that she’s willing to air in public.  I’ve been so engrained to be polite – to deal with things “through the proper channels” – that this kind of in-your-face campaign is foreign to me.

Some of the people still at her old workplace have logged in to comment – and to reprimand her – about some of the things she’s posted, and I’m betting that there’s an even larger conversation going on offline.  One person exhorted her to be a “grown-up” and “move on,” and it’s all I can do to not chime in to say, “Hold on a second; since when is it “grown up” to just shrug off bad behavior?  Isn’t the whole point of adulthood to stand up against what you think is wrong and NOT leave it for the next person to have to suffer?” but I’m not sure I’m willing to wade into the conversation at all.

I can’t decide how I feel about this tactic of hers.  Part of me  – and I’m going to admit here that it’s a pretty big part of me – applauds her for doing this.  I keep going back to the idea that Dr. King highlighted in his Letter from a Birmingham Jail in which he asked about how we are best to address our grievances when the authorities whose job it is to adjudicate those grievances are the offending parties.  I keep going back to the idea that silence always benefits the oppressor, and that evil triumphs when good men do nothing.  I keep thinking that she’s right to stand up and scream, loudly and persistently, about the wrong that she sees, and that she’s right to expect people who are still in the system to take a long, hard, critical look at what she’s yelling about and then maybe do something about it.  At the same time, though, I can’t help cringing at the bluntness, the bitterness, and the pointy bits.

In this age of social media, IS there a middle ground anymore?



Filed under critical thinking, ethics, I can't make this shit up..., out in the real world, popular culture, rhetoric, Yikes!

5 responses to “The Facebook Generation

  1. K

    *public 😉

    This is such a tough issue. Honestly, the only concrete thing I can think of to say is that when you make a scene, you burn bridges that you might need in order to get the next job (references, etc.). That said, I definitely feel her pain. Sometimes it is better to burn a bridge than to let something stand.

  2. Fixed it. Thanks.


    I think that’s where she is now; she’d much rather burn the bridge than let things go the way they’re going (and the way they’ve historically gone).

    Still, there’s a high ick factor to the whole thing. We’re negotiating new rules in our culture, I think. It’s weird to be on the leading edge of it.

  3. Suzanne J-W

    In many ways, though, they are the same rules in a new realm. Comments are public and permanent. There’s no changing your mind, taking it down and pretending nothing happened. I am on my organization’s Social Media Advisory Panel, and our mantra has always been, “If you don’t want it broadcast on the jumbotron in Times Square, don’t post it.”

    Having myself been fired for putting too many nickels in the cash drawer, I have some understanding of the bitterness in an unjust termination. That was 20 years ago now, and I have a wonderful life that my former manager just doesn’t have. I am blessed and appreciate what I have, and leave her to her own life.

    I am interested to watch what comes after FB (and after that) and see what changes about the way we interact in these forums, and what stays the same.

  4. Bob Jr

    Dude! Please call me. I know there are 2 sides to a story and somewhere in the middle of those sides is the truth. You are missing a side to this you might want to be aware of.

    The fact that this job was a teaching job and she is spreading her propaganda to students of the school is a big “ick” factor. If someone feels they were wrongfully fired from a job there are other routes to explore which will still go public.

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