The Hand That Feeds You


I see the dumbest things on Facebook.

The other day, I read a post by an employee who, for one reason or another, thought it was necessary or somehow wise to tell the world that his boss was stupid, had a bad disposition, was unfair, unjust and otherwise not fit to waste our oxygen. I can save a lot of words and sentences here; this takes the cake for Most Dimwitted Use Of Social Media. Ever.

Don’t get me wrong.  I’ve had problems with bosses and employers in my life, back in the days before texting and social media.  But this is almost as though someone has said “Hey, this media is fast and cool, but while we’re at it, let’s try to find the worst possible ways to use it.” There seems to be a tendency in our society today, with the advent of social media, to air our grievances publicly. It’s Festivus  for Facebook.

We all have grievances.  We all get angry and frustrated with people in positions of authority.  But it doesn’t make sense, in most situations, to air that frustration publicly.  We used to call that “biting the hand that feeds you.”

Should we ban these ranting morons from Facebook?  Should we take away their computer or their smartphone?  Something tells me that won’t solve the problem. Isn’t it about a change in our thinking?  Why is it now somehow acceptable to broadcast our feelings while we’re upset or angry?  Sure, I’ll buy part of the argument that instant communication lends itself to “immediate gratification,” but even if it does, why have we started thinking it’s all right to do so?  There’s an old saying: Just because you can doesn’t mean you should.

When I was young, my mother told me to count to ten when I was angry.  Being angry, I  usually counted only to three or four and let fly.  So this was a lesson long in coming to me. Even today, there are about a zillion other people in the world who are better at counting to ten than I am.  Oh, I know how  to count. But sometimes I don’t want  to. It doesn’t mean I don’t try, it doesn’t mean I didn’t listen to my mother and it doesn’t mean I don’t know better.  Even me, the guy with the short fuse who is liable to say anything, reads these “my boss is an idiot” postings and thinks “You’re a bigger idiot than your boss on his worst day.”

Should employers have the right to be aware of how their employees behave in public?  I think so.  Look at the situation without social media in the picture:  employers have always tried to protect their reputation.  As an employer, you hire an individual to assist you in selling your product or service.  If that employee does anything to restrict or curb those sales, he is doing the opposite of what you hired him to do. That’s a breach of contract. If word comes to you through any  channel that a particular employee speaks ill of you or your company, isn’t it all right to sit down with that employee and say “I hired you to help create a good image.  Stop creating a bad one.  I refuse to pay you for that.”

Some may argue that no such clause exists in their contract.  I suggest that if you read it carefully, you’ll find it. But if not, it’s still common sense;  I’m pretty sure most employers don’t make a habit of paying people to insult them.

Some will argue, properly, that there is a right to free speech in this country.  Maybe, today, we are confusing that right with something different: the additional agreement by an employee to help to create a positive image of the person or company who is paying him. This agreement stands above and beyond  free speech.  It is an agreement, made willingly, that says, in essence, “Yes, I know I can say anything I want to say, but I’ve agreed to say good things about my boss. He has agreed to pay me to do that.”  If anyone wants to argue that this is nothing short of prostitution, I would nod my head and say, “But you did  take the money.”

We could argue about whether I’m right or wrong until the sun goes down, and that’s all right.  But for heaven’s sake, if you don’t like your boss, and you feel hell-bent on telling the world how stupid he or she is, do it in this order:  1. Quit.  Leave your job and the paycheck you are receiving.  Only after you have completed step one, should you 2. Tell the world about his or her imbecility.  Better a whore than a hypocrite.

But remember, I am a guy who will say almost anything.  Taking my advice could be unwise. When you decide that you want someone else  to hire you, they may have heard about your scintillating social media outburst.  They may not need the headache.

Maybe the best advice is to leave your employment quietly, on good terms and zip your lip.

Count to ten. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Don’t bite when it’s not feeding you. Stop biting.

2 thoughts on “The Hand That Feeds You

  1. Good advise. People are confused about the Constitution’s description free speech (basically a protection for individuals who own a printing press and wish to comment about the behavior of public individuals) and how, on the other hand, it provides no protection for those who think they have the same privilege to publish slander about a private individual in the (social or regular) media.


  2. I agree SLH. Somewhere along the line, we’ve forgotten that, with rights, come responsibilities. And of course, no one wants to be responsible these days. I blame Dr. Spock. DB


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