Thursday, October 30, 2014
Snarky speech, that used to be acceptable in the workplace, now adds to social tensions everywhere, since the Internet can amplify it
The norms of accepted workplace behavior have certainly changed in the past few decades.
I can remember, say in the 1970s and early 1980s, that it was acceptable to make snarky remarks under one’s breath about a lot of things. For example, race in the NFL. Or the cosmetic deficiencies of a lot of people (men and women both). Even given the AIDS crisis of the 1980s, gay people didn’t get the verbal beating in “my” workplaces that a lot of others did. The civil rights movement and perhaps Stonewall had changed some things. But comments about a lot of other matters, like obesity, were common and took on a moral tone.
The Internet has complicated the “game”. Now, if one has direct reports, subordinates could determine a manager’s own personal prejudices from his or her social media posts or web content, which I’ve often written about as a big conflict of interest problem. Now, there is a new dimension to all of this. If international terrorists are willing to manipulate the most psychopathic and unstable people among us online, a lot of older prejudicial content simply serves as more kindling.