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Pinback's Journal
Pinback's Journal
March 15, 2013

Gotta say, very weird worldview, dude

I've worked with people who are hell-bent on advancement through office politics and internecine warfare. They often don't last long, either because they're constantly changing jobs to find an edge or because they create such an aura of rancor that somebody eventually has enough of their shit and finds a way to get rid of them.

I can think of one job I had where a bully boss (not mine, thank goodness) fit this description. He was always snooping around for dirt on people, telling people different things to pit them against each other to his advantage, and so on. The standard Looking Out for Number One Machiavellian orientation. His assistant -- who was cordial to him with gritted teeth while they worked together -- stabbed him in the back, which he richly deserved, in her exit interview. He was gone within the month.

I have a few other examples from the long landscape of my work life, but I don't really feel like spelling them all out here. I'll just say that the patterns are sickeningly repetitive.

My own approach has been to be a cooperative team player, to learn all I can, and try to provide good value to every organization I'm a part of. It hasn't always worked out for the best -- shit happens sometimes -- but in most situations I've received stellar feedback about my performance, advancements and raises, and the high regard of superiors and colleagues. (No brag, just fact.) I've advised my kids to take the same approach (one I learned from my dad), and it's served them well in their scholastic and work lives as well.

I find the approach you describe akin to road rage. It's like going into the office every day as though it were a battlefield or a viper pit. I know some work environments are like that, but sometimes when we go into a situation expecting enemies on all sides, that's just what we get.

As a wise man I used to work with said once, "Some people have bad neighbors everywhere they go."

March 13, 2013

Outside the Facebook wall

As a non-Facebook user, I've been increasingly disturbed over the past few years to see not only the erosion of privacy that comes with dependency on Facebook, but also the insular quality of interactions between Facebook users (to the exclusion of those of us outside the Facebook wall).

Today came the harshest example yet: I took a look at the Facebook page of one of my best friends, for the first time in a long while, and discovered that his mother died fairly unexpectedly -- several weeks ago! So I feel like a jerk for not offering condolences sooner, but I haven't talked to this guy recently, neither he nor his wife emailed or called or wrote with the news, and I didn't hear this sad news from any mutual friends either.

Just the latest reminder that if you're not on Facebook, you assume peripheral status in the lives of many people you may regard as being in your inner circle.

I've chosen to avoid Facebook not because I'm a Luddite -- I work in IT; I've used various computer operating systems for many years; I manage a couple of blogs and a couple of non-profit web sites in my spare time; I use a smartphone; and I try to stay current with fresh technological developments in many areas, because these things interest me. I find Facebook's privacy policies to be untrustworthy, based on many reported incidents and personal observations over the years.

Sure, maybe I should just lighten up and climb over the wall to enjoy the Facebook life -- connected, informed, affirmed, responded-to, etc. But I'm just not feeling it, and don't expect I ever will. Facebook's tracking of members' online activity is scary. Many users agree with me and have filed a class action lawsuit over their policies. So no, I won't be sacrificing my privacy any time soon for the warm, friendly experience that Big Brother Zuckerberg wants to give me.

It's also true that I don't have strong "affiliation needs." I'm not reclusive by any means, but I don't need constant affirmation from -- and contact with -- friends and acquaintances either. You wanna talk to me? It's pretty easy -- give me a holler, ping me, stop by the house, meet me for a beer, whatever. I don't necessarily care to join 500 of your closest friends to read online what you're eating tonight, what funny cat video you just discovered, or how many people "Like" your vacation photos. But if you're my friend and it's you and me talking or hanging out, pretty much whatever comes up is cool. (And yes, btw, I do love funny cat videos, so let's laugh at a couple together over a beer.)

I know many people love and use Facebook daily. If you are one of them, please don't take this personally -- I'm not condemning Facebook users or saying they're all narcissists. But I am really disturbed by what it's doing to relationships. And I'm not giving up (what's left of) my privacy just to be on the other side of the wall with you.

Sure, Facebook is great for members to stay in touch with other Facebook members. Life inside the wall can be rewarding. There are many happy stories of people connecting with old friends via Facebook and deepening emotional connections with those they already know. I'm not talking about all that. I'm talking about the wall that Facebook puts up between us, between those of you on the inside of the wall and those few pathetic losers like me outside the wall.

Ultimately, this is really just a plea for those inside the Facebook wall to fold up a note into a paper airplane and send it over the wall now and then, or maybe puff up a smoke signal the rest of us can see. We miss you.

Pardon the rant -- just had to get this off my chest.

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Hometown: GA
Home country: USA
Member since: 2002
Number of posts: 12,033

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