There is a recent trend. Maybe you’ve noticed it too. It’s the forced (or unforced) resignations, the sudden firings of people who have committed one of the new Cardinal Sins:
the freedom of speech expressing unpopular opinions on social media.
All too often I read about the next businessman or politician who has left their former job because social media rose up against them. Take Brendan Eich’s situation. He stated his opinions on gay marriage, and we’re all entitled to our opinions, but he never once harmed another human being’s right to be themselves and his company is open and accepting of all people from all walks of live. However, Twitterers decided that since his opinion didn’t coincide with their own, they’d revolt. They basically performed a “Twitter picket” with their opinions about his opinions. Now, they are certainly entitled to their opinions as well, but the difference comes when social media crosses over into his workplace and forces him to resign. Something went very wrong here. We’re starting to see a new phenomenon and it is scary.
This new phenomenon basically says that if enough people post on social media then they can force other people out of their jobs, simply based on opinions. Our personal lives are not open to democratic votes of what we do or say. My life as a teacher should not be beholden to any FB or Twitter army of people who don’t like my opinions, as long as (and this is were the line needs to be drawn) my opinions don’t interfere with my work. But we’ve already gone too far too many times now and it is sickening.
Why are we adopting this mentality? Why is this okay? We need more faith in humanity and the human condition; namely, we’ve all got our opinions and nobody is ever going to agree with all of them and we all make mistakes. We need a better approach. Why don’t we help them better themselves instead of holding a social flogging, like the berating of Haruto Obokata. She made some mistakes on a paper about STAP Cell research, some really important work, and the world jumped down her throat about the mistakes. What they should have done was notice that she didn’t make these mistakes out of malice, and she can’t get away with anything unless it is reproducible and factual, so why not give her the benefit of the doubt and instead try to help her correct the paper and get on with the research that can help cure cancer, among other amazing things.
Firing, resignations, and social lynchings of people’s personal and work related lives based on the social media’s opinions is horrific and ridiculous. It is also an extremely childish way to handle situations that should be handled with much more finesse and tact. As for those who are forced out, whoever takes their place can make the same mistakes, or have in the past. If we aren’t given the chance to learn from our mistakes, we don’t get better, we just end up resentful of the system. It is utterly depressing. If we don’t like someones opinion, we should simply try our best to help them become better people – not to say that our own opinions are better. But the only way to get to someone and help make a difference is to try your best to show them your perspective and hope that it helps them come to the same conclusions you’ve come too. But you can’t forget to reciprocate and try and understand their perspective as well.
If we help each other get stronger, challenge each others opinions and motivations, then we all become stronger for it and our bonds grow. If companies tried to work with employees who’ve made mistakes then instead of searching for a replacement, you end up with a better employee and a better relationship. Instead of the social lynching of people who’s opinions we don’t agree with, we should try to help them see our opinions and make sure they don’t let their opinions affect their work. And if their work isn’t being affected by there opinions, then that’s all it is, an opinion, and there’s nothing else for it, either you like it or you don’t.