When I was just about to exit university and start my tenure in the real world, a great aunt of mine found me on Facebook and friended me. My mom discovered this and told me to unfriend her immediately, citing the danger of letting the woman pour over my weirder posts and photos. This led to a long discussion, the point of which, according to my mom (who is scary too), was to clean up my profile so potential bosses would dig it. This seemed a nightmare to me, and an affront to Internet fun times. Facebook, like other social media outlets, was a place of expression, and is now ridiculously monitored (a fate that’s darkened Twitter, Google+, the lot!). This has been and is a problem.
More recently, a friend got fired from his post as a teacher (not even in the states) after numerous students discovered his Twitter feed and stand-up comedy videos. Apparently, the folks at the school didn’t enjoy the content (mind you, this is a high school, not even an elementary school) and booted him. I mark this as unfair and highly ridiculous. For one, it is nonsense to judge a dude or lady on their artistic output, especially if the job post is some degrees removed from the medium in question. My colleague is a very professional guy, and I’ve seen him teach (he’s one of the better teachers I’ve encountered). I’ve no doubt that transmitted daily to students and parallel professionals alike. Attacking him for comedic stuff that has no effect on his teaching is a personal affront and puts creativity in danger.
For a lot of people, Facebook, Twitter, and their ilk are opportunities for silly escapades you couldn’t achieve in certain contexts. To me, it goes without saying that someone posting dick jokes won’t necessarily try the same humor in a classroom full of children. Unless that particular person’s postings are impressively vile, I wouldn’t let them alter my judgment of a possible employee. It’s akin to the idea that a teacher can be a terrible human but a wonderful teacher; I had a professor in college that led his life (publically at times) like a drunken wastoid, but his lectures and writing were profound and engaging, regardless of his out-of-classroom behavior.
One’s merit should be measured on professional behavior and work. My friend faced an injustice, as his passions and art got him sacked from a job where he probably excelled. There should be a professional courtesy, allowing for a friendly zone of privacy for people’s crazy creative aspirations. Of course, this is a utopian fallacy, as everyone can access everything now, and there is a danger in uploading creative work. But wait, what if my friend was performing stand-up and the boss of the school walked in, after school hours, and had a personal problem. Would that be grounds for professional dismissal? I think not!
Really, what can be done? We live in an age where we have the freedom to post hilarious nonsense, but may face scrutiny for doing so (by people who probably enjoy a dick joke on the Internet themselves). Suffering for one’s art is defined now by having to deal with dinguses who have the power to squish creativity and silliness, the Internet promising a wide variety of media but with evil eyes everywhere. Even I find myself afraid, here in my secret little universe, writing kink stuff and yelling about television, but hiding behind a pseudonym because in this era I have to. And that is not particularly rad.