I want to take this moment to bow our heads and offer a silent prayer in thanks for no longer being on YouTube…
So a major YouTube content creator did something stupid again, and now the YouTube community is on a bender with denouncing the actions, and worrying about the ramifications for the future. The TL;DR is that PewDiePie said the “N” word with the “hard R” during a live stream while being irritated with another player. You can go find a clip from a thousand different uploads on the web to decide where you stand on his actions. What I want to talk about in this post is how your daily way of speaking and thinking can easily end up within the professional realm. The idea of being able to say certain things “privately” while saying other things “publicly” looks fine on paper, but the human brain has a nasty way of not playing by the rules.
In my non technical training one of the points that was hammered home every day, multiple times a day was, “train how you fight”. The basic argument is that while everything is cotton candy and fairy dust the front of your mind is able to make the appropriate decisions to keep you out of trouble. The thing is when the front mind becomes stressed, and the lizard brain takes over you will revert to muscle memory. You don’t think about pulling your weapon, your hand simply moves. You don’t think about taking cover, you’re moving before your brain even registers the danger. You don’t think about being polite while stressed you simply refer to everyone as “sir”, or “mam” and your words become become less argumentative.
On this line of thinking I’ve seen how the way people act in their personal lives directly impacts how they interact professionally. They imagine a separation between the two, but after a 12 hour day, or an incredibly stressful migration, the front brain begins to crack, and the lizard seeps through. Jokes that you would not say first thing in the morning after a cup of coffee suddenly don’t seem so awful at 8pm at night during a grueling inventory. Comments you would never imagine uttering about people slip out after you’ve dealt with 5 idiots in a row that all happen to share a set of characteristics. You say things you would scold your child for saying, but somehow it doesn’t seem so bad. The issue is in these circumstances that the lizard brain only cares about one thing, and that is you. The lizard protects the ego. What you don’t think about is the people around you. You don’t think about the person coming in for third shift that is bright eyed after their first cup of coffee as you talk about how people that share their characteristics are so awful. You don’t think about the people around you that are so tired that they don’t have the energy to confront you now, but will approach HR when they are up for it. You don’t think about the person with the smart phone camera that can now show the world what the COMPANY stands for. You fight how you train. When you’re inappropriate privately, you will end up being inappropriate publicly.
This comes through with the video PewDiePie was in. He didn’t scream about “those” people committing white genocide. He didn’t argue about how “they” are somehow genetically more criminal than others. He didn’t really say anything at all about “them”. He was in the middle of a game, got a bit stressed, and the lizard did what it was programmed to do. He defaulted to what he had trained… and in the modern world of content creation that slip has had a real impact.
This is a a danger with the troll culture that many young people are enjoying. So many of the interactions online are so nasty and yet they don’t think about how this trains them to act in the real world. I’m not sure I’ve ever said the “N” word. There’s just no point. The psychic load of the word is just too great to brother with. Women seem to by and large loath “cunt”, so why go there… ever?
Right now there is a screaming match about what freedom of speech should actually mean. The thing is that so many of the actions that your words will influence will not even be said out loud. If you have a female manager, and you talk about “bitches” and “cunts” how do you think that will play out when you’re one of five team members up for a single slot for promotion? If you sit in the break area after a long day griping about “those” people is the owner going to feel comfortable giving you a leadership position? If you have a minority manager how helpful are they going to be with your career development if it becomes known on your free time you’re talking about folks like them needing to be shoved on the first boat out?
PewDiePie is a ridiculous example. He is a target more because the old media likes to make him a target than anything else. To be clear YouTube should give him a smack, but it over emphasizes his particular situation. Having been a manager, boss, and owner let me be clear. There’s only so much money and resources a business or organization has too go around. You will generally always have more applicants for a position then you have slots for so you will always have to figure out who to promote and support in their careers, and who to leave behind. Five applicants for one slot de facto means four people will not get the job. In this litigious, SJW, #RESIST world why the hell do you think a boss wants to promote someone not disciplined enough to know when to keep quiet?
There are many ways to release stress. Running, martial arts, hitting the heavy bag… These things get out your aggression, let you work out your issues, and at the end of the day give results most people would be impressed by.
Put yourself in a bosses position. You have two candidates. The first candidate when stressed goes out and runs 5 miles and is prepping for a marathon. The other candidate when they get stressed they start telling off color jokes, and venting about sensitive topics. Who would you promote..?
Act as if every interaction, every conversation is a professional one. Because especially in the tech world they are…