Leave Commentary to the “Professionals”

Why do I talk about White Privilege, Voting for Trump, and my unease with the US’s antagonistic actions towards Russia?  Because I get paid to TALK. My job is LITERALLY to talk, or write.  I get paid because people are looking for arguments for and against their positions and half the time I make relatively cognizant arguments. In the tech world globalization, diversity, and potential war has become something that is relevant and any smart decision maker in the field needs to be thinking about so when their CEO asks them a very uncomfortable question they know how they’ll respond.  A large problem that I see in the current environment is now that everyone can publish their ideas to the world in a moment, everyone has decided to be a commentator.  There is a feeling that if you don’t speak up for your view point that you are letting the other side win.  I would say this is a horrible mindset that will lead many into trouble.

I really want to hammer home the point that talking is how I pay my mortgage.  Because I use the same tools that you can use there is a feeling that somehow we are peers.  Being peers you have as much right, and dare say responsibility to declare your views as I do.  If I talk about White Privilege it is your duty to respond.  Please remember that I have spent 8 years as a content creator, and came to this world from being a professional.  I had already dealt with labor law, diversity issues, selection bias, policing problems, etc before I recorded my first video.  Coming to creation I always looked at my voice as a proverbial weapon, and never forget that what I say could come back to haunt me.  I never forget the lesson an instructor banged into my head so many years ago.  You must always be able to articulate the reason you pulled your weapon.  If you can articulate to someone else why you took the action to pull your weapon and fire in general you will be ok.  If you say the equivalent of, “uhm…” things will get messy for you.  When I say the things I do I know I can back them up.  A few years from now I may have found new information, but I will be able to explain where I was coming from when I said something.

As a creator there is a skill set you develop and refine.  The ability to take in information, process it, compare it against what you know, and then be able to spit out a comment that may be inflammatory, but does not cross the invisible societal lines is a hard earned skill.  Just as a master brick layer can throw down rows of perfect brickwork in less time than you can figure out how to lay the first brick so can good creators rip out commentary.  It only looks simple because the expert is good at what they do.

Professionals now are finding it easier and easier to fall into the trap of thinking they can lay the bricks of commentary.  If someone can kick back in a chair, drinking coffee with a Chihuahua on their chest yabbering for 2 hours how hard can it be?  If a moron with a webcam can say their bit, why shouldn’t you fight back? The reason is that this isn’t your JOB.

The mess that we are in now politically is a minefield for companies.  The fact is that there are far more lurkers in the political space than the media wants to make out.  They don’t want to get into arguments, but they also don’t want to support people diametrically opposed to them. When you say, “Anyone who believes _______ is a moron!” are you so sure what your boss believes? When you’re working on the help desk and see a news article that pisses you off are you ever so sure where the other 5 members of your team stand? When you slap a glib bumper sticker on your car are you sure how your client feels? Your career will live or die based on conversations that you will never be a part of.  An owner asking the help desk manager who’s the best person to promote.  A manager deciding who will be laid off.  A client choosing which consultant they want to work with.  Everything you say is heard whether or not you realize it…

When your commentary goes from idle talk to social media companies have to be worried about real blow back.  Why should they risk profit because an easily replaceable employee wants to spout off?  The outrage culture is real, and even small boycotts can cost significant sums to companies.  If you’re an owner or CEO do you want to get into arguments about how your employees feel about the NRA?

From a business owners perspective I’d say commentary can be the most dangerous.  Equal Opportunity laws are real, and the consequences for violation are draconian.  Do you really…. really… want to document forever something that you may word poorly? If you’re a business owner for 20 years there WILL be a legal issue with an employee.  Is a missive you scrawl out worth the possible misunderstanding 10 years from now.  “You documented in 2017 to the bottom of your heart you believe _____”…

My advice is to leave the bombast to the people who get paid to be bombastic. Even creative professionals cross the line, and get their asses handed to them. Are you really confident that what you’re about to post is 100% what you want written in stone for the rest of your professional life? Social media has given you a megaphone to the world, but that doesn’t mean you have to use it. I remember waaaaay back ten years ago when not everyone had to scream to the world their view about every possible political thing.  They voted.  They supported candidates and causes that aligned with their views. They may have canvased and protested, but folks generally knew when to put the monologues down and get back to work.

When we hear of massive national or global backlash against a stupid tweet it’s far too easy to overlook the everyday consequences of politics in social media.  The resume tossed in the trash can.  The extra shift given to someone else. The questions of leadership ability that end in a groan…

Leave the commentary to the professionals.  We get paid for what would get you fired…

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