In the old days (let's say, ooh, five years ago), one's private life was, well, private. If you were gay, and worked in a conservative environment, you might keep the fact to yourself. And if you liked your wife to attach electrodes to your nipples during sex, you'd keep it under wraps. Whatever your particular kink, you kept it locked up and usually didn't chat about it.
But suppose one day you thought, sod this for a game of soldiers, why should I be ashamed of who I am? and then you decided to start a blog. I'll use an anonymous name, you tell yourself, and I'll be totally free to talk about how I hate my mother in law and how I like to wear my wife's stockings, how I hate my boss's guts and how I shagged his wife at the office party. And soon you're on a roll, so liberated, so free.
When I started blogging, my friend Daisy said, "Oh no, soon you'll be posting nude photos of yourself on the Internet." Well, I laughed, of course I did, I had not so much as used a digital camera in those days. And actually I have not posted any nude pictures on the Internet, as yet, but it is certainly a slippery slope, because as soon as you start blogging you start letting down your guard. And it really is liberating. And here's the thing, blogging is sad, of course it is. Here I am trying to make my fuck boring life look interesting. Here I am pretending I have something to say. But on the flip side it is the ultimate form of self-expression, because it is totally free of censorship and you can express yourself in a way that no job will let you do.
And therein lies the rub. There you are, all free, and maybe now there are some dodgy photos of you up on some site in your birthday suit, or you're wrapped in cling film or wearing a harness or whatever the hell your kink is. But suppose your boss is checking up on you. Googling your name and not liking what they find?
Because there have been quite a few incidents where people have been fired for doing such things outside of work, such as an Ohio teacher who was fired last month after his private nude photos were posted online without his knowledge and then discovered by administrators. Not to mention Michelle Manhart, who was demoted from Air Force staff sergeant to senior airman and then reassigned to the Iowa National Guard, for posing in Playboy without first obtaining the Air Force's permission.
One's initial reaction to these sort of incidents is outrage! Invasion of privacy! More than anything else, the Internet has made the private public. But I would say, and maybe this is harsh, if you are going to make your private life public on the net, there will be consequences.
To what extent do you think employers have the right to police their employees? If they read on someone's blog that Employee X is taking coke or indulging in kinky sex, at what point does it become the company's business? Catawumpus, who started this discussion on her blog, believes that if these activities do not affect the employee's ability to do their job, then the employer should back off. But I would say it is a bit of a gray area. What if clients see unsavory images of the employee or kids see their teachers in unsuitable poses on the net? How much say should an employer have in telling you how to conduct your private life?
And I suppose that is the irony of it all. The Internet has made it so much easier for employers to police employees. I do say that when you work for a corporation, often you do sell your soul to the company, and yes, they own you and tell you how to behave until such time as you are no longer useful to the company and they hit the eject button. In Japan, in exchange for being a corporate slave and emotional robot, they do keep you on at the company your whole life (or they did until recently), so that is a fair exchange. But in Western society, I have always seen working for a corporation as being a bit of a contract with the devil. But it is not just in large corporations, most jobs require you to act in some way that is contrary to one's nature. It just seems sad that now bosses are trying to blot out the one part of our individuality we have left: our right to express ourselves when we are off the clock. What do you think?
Who am I? Displaced Londoner now living in the States with my two little girlies and long suffering husband. Co-author of hilarious parenting book Cocktails at Naptime www.cocktailsatnaptime.com
My mom's an Austrian, my dad's a Brit, which makes me a Britaustrian, or possibly an Austrish?