Saturday, May 16, 2009

Who Wins?

Houston's, we may have a problem. Seems Big Brother is watching a little close these days. An upcoming court case in New Jersey will determine your right to privacy, at least when it comes to staying employed. Two ex-employees of Houston's restaurant were fired, when management "encouraged" another employee to give up the password to a private message board where they were making negative comments about supervisors, the restaurant and it's patrons.

Driving in my car yesterday, hearing this story, I initially joining the talk show host in outrage at the invasion of privacy. I mean this was done during non-work hours and not on company computers. The employee that was "encouraged" to give up her password stated she felt she would be fired if she did not allow them access.

Then I got to thinking, when did the employees earn the right to talk bad about someone other than to their face. I am not naive, I know it happens but what does it really help? It affects no real change and then giving out passwords to other employees bringing them into the cabal of dissension, seriously? My thoughts progressed yet again to what might have caused the employees to talk this way about where they work. Their leaders created the stories the employees were telling through attitudes and actions.

In all of this, who wins. Each side is firmly entrenched defending their position, each having their own faults, and no one seems to be doing what probably could have avoided all of this...listening. I wonder when the conversation broke down, or if it ever really began.

Decisions we make in our own relationships lead down similar paths. Someone chooses not to speak to a spouse or friend about an issue and instead chooses to loosen their tongue online, or gather their other friends, like a lynch mob, to share their burden (translate take their side and help tie the noose). Next thing you know it's all over the news and the next step is court. Or we can choose to take it straight to the source and talk about it.

Houston's, we may have started with a problem, but now we have a debacle.

11 comments:

Lover of Life said...

I think you need to be prepared to have anything you write online to be public - because it is. It is a public forum.

The best approach is to know when your intention is to do harm, whether by blasting someone online, manipulation, angry outbursts, or thinking nasty thoughts about people. The intention is the same. The negative energy is the same, and it always draws the negativity back to the person. One way or another, it always comes back.

Megan said...

My brother likes to remind me sometimes that even the 'delete blog' button is no safeguard. It's still there, somewhere, and always will be.

I had more to say but I am completely entranced by what Logan said on the twitter feed, and lost my train of thought!

subtorp77 said...

This will either get real nasty( And bring in the A.C.L.U. ) or a new precedent will be set. A lot of open conversations are heard at work( the bosses have ears, every-where ), never mind what the crew is doing away from work. If it's not on the companies time or dime...but then again no company wants this allowed. could be considered rebellious, wot? And let's not get started on talking down other co-workers. We all know this goes on...

tony said...

Well it has always gone on.Groups huddled in corners whispering.Its just that the "whispering" in this case happens to be electronic.
The trouble is,The Internet makes it easier to Spy on us.For example, look whats happening in the UK.The Govenment here wants to read ALL our emails!
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/7819230.stm

Daniel said...

I missed this story. A slippery slope indeed. But, your take on the real issue is relevant too. In the "battle" of us vs. them, proletariat vs. "the man", common ground is not something that is easily found.

Brian Miller said...

@lover of life - it always comes back...too true. and yes if we can get through the emotions to measure our intentions we may make a lot wiser choice.

@megan - yeah. my boys were a little crazy yesterday. their one liners were killing me.

@subtorp - yeah imagine it's going to get messy. already negative press abuzz for both parties. don't see a pretty end in sight.

@tony - 1984, enough said.

@daniel - :)

Leah said...

Fascinating debate, and I'm not sure what I think. But what Megan said scared me. Of course I'm aware of it, but it's good to be reminded...

Ronda Laveen said...

It brings up the fact that we always have the choice of pouring oil or water on a fire. Flaring it up or putting it out. Unfortunately, too often people choose the flare in the heat of the moment. Sigh!

Cinnamon said...

Best to work on the principle to avoid discussing work on public forums. A previous employer of mine asked me to give him my password to a secure system- and also asked me for the password to a colleagues email. I did not give him either (I didnt't know my colleagues email password anyway) but it was a tricky one as I had only been in post 2 days and I didn't want to rock the boat. I also wondered if he was testing me to see if I would adhere to password privacy! The possibilty of finding out what your employees really think of you must be so tempting!

I am sure they can hack into our emails anyway.

As you say- if you have a gripe about someone, best say it to their face :)

Marianna said...

I think that the wrong thing here (IMO) is the fact that employers 'spy' on employees and blackmail them, turning them into 'tell-tales'. I mean whatever happened to rights, supporting one another...

Ofcourse it is a risk and wrong to post offensive things on-line but that doesn't change the fact that someone violated someone else's rights.

wrong-just-wrong...
Have a great week Brian
xoxo

Baino said...

Yep online bagging is not a good idea. However my daughter has just found out that her ex employer has been accessing her email at work and through her hotmail account. This is HIGHLY illegal here unless the employer tells their employees that they are to be monitored electronically. Access by any other means is not on! I'm very careful about what I say on the blog. Best to keep negativity and names out of it. That being said, everyone has the right to whinge ..just do it over coffee or on the phone out of earshot!