Wednesday, September 01, 2004

Chuq posts an interesting thread on being fired for blogging. Friendster, the social networking site, canned an employee apparently for simply commenting on engineering releases she was working on. Nothing particularly negative.

I had first written, "this is getting to be a problem", but, to tell you the truth, I don't know how I feel about it. Read
this thread about another blog-related firing and you'll probably react the same way I did, "Do I really want to be working with that person?"

After writing for close to 50 years now, one of the things I believe strongly is that you can't write well without "writing truly", as Hemingway said. "Writing truly" isn't necessarily writing the truth -- in fact, it often has little do with "truth" when truth means "exact reportage." Writing truly is more what's writing in your heart, even when you know you could be jeopardizing relationships with family, friends, and co-workers by writing it.

I agonized over posting the "
Prancing in the Rain" segment because family, as well as Peg's friends, occasionally read fhb, and I didn't want to embarrass Peg, even though I let her see it in draft stage and got her okay before I released it. Peg's been with me long enough that she knows that everything is grist for the mill. It's one of the many downsides of being married to a writer. Eventually I posted the segment, because I liked it... and it was true.

Similarly, I dithered about releasing yesterday's "
Machine Sex" post... this time more because I know people I work with read fhb, and it's the sort of thing that I know from experience can come back to haunt you when you least expect it.

But it turned out it was more important for me to post than to discard the article, because I loved the site, I loved the article and photographs, and I wanted to comment on it. And living the free-lance life I do now, it's important for me to be my own person, not some company's or manager's image of what "Fred the employee" should be.

Is there a difference between commenting on your work, as Joyce Park did, and penning angry rants about co-workers or managers as Norah Burch, the ex-Harvard employee, posted on her blog? Obviously. But should you be prepared to live with the consequences of what you write and think about that before publishing? Yes, and maybe that's an important lesson for any writer to learn. It's unfair what Friendster management did to Joyce -- at least from the publicly available information. But when you write anything for public view -- and a blog is more a public billboard than a private diary -- than you have to recognize that almost certainly, eventually, you'll offend or annoy somebody, especially if that someone thinks money is involved, as Friendster obviously did.

Writing is tough. Words are dangerous. It's something to keep in mind the next time you post to your blog.

And, no, I still haven't gotten to the "Suicide Girls" post. :-) Maybe tomorrow.

No comments: