An open letter
This morning it was brought to my attention that there is someone out there who disagrees with my opinions so much that they thought it was appropriate to get in touch with my employer to silence me. Let’s be clear here, the opinions I express on my personal blog, on my Facebook page, on social media, in the comments on news articles and blogs, are my own. I don’t speak for anyone else, nor do my personal opinions necessarily reflect the opinions of my employer. It should be noted that when I post anything under my real name, or the pseudonym “IceWolf” or “IceWolf08” that it is me, and has nothing to do with anyone else.
Why do I open with this preface? Well, my employer received an email from a person whose name was not disclosed to me saying that my employer should take steps to stop me from posting my opinions on Facebook. All things considered, there are probably not a lot of people who are “friends” with me on Facebook who would feel that they have any business or even enough of a connection with my employer to write such a note. So, very short list with at least one name in very high consideration. Needless to say, the recipient of said email wrote it off as crazy and didn’t even dignify it with a response. This makes me very proud. Granted, I work in an industry that tends to be pretty liberal, but it is nice to be reminded every now and then that there is truly a separation between work life and personal life.
Of course while part of me thought that it could be best to just let it go, there is another part of me that was compelled to speak up. Lets take a quick look at social media and the internet. While there are still plenty of people who take everything they read on the internet as if it were god-given fact, the truth is, most of the internet is fiction and opinion. Then when you look at social media, it gets even more interesting. There are far too many people who think that Facebook is the way to keep tabs on friends and family that they don’t see often. While it is true, you can do this, it isn’t what it is all about. Facebook is no substitute for actually seeing your friends and family, and I know people who have/are friends and family who would spend more time following eachother online than make the drive across town to visit. This is not really my point though.
Facebook and other social media is a platform for self expression and opinion. It is a platform for advertising, marketing, and some business connections. In the digital age, people wanted an outlet. Instead of prophets and doomsayers in the park, instead of shooting the shit with a small group of friends at the bar, you can now instantly reach the thousands of “friends” you have on social media. You can start discussions and get opinions from all over the world in seconds, or you can stand on your soapbox and preach. This is what social media is all about. Social media isn’t about connecting you to friends and family who would listen to you anyway, it is about connecting you to the world instantaneously. When I publish this blog post, within seconds it will hit my twitter, Facebook, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn, and who knows where else. I don’t actually expect too many people to read it though.
So, lets go back to my opinion. On my personal pages (Facebook, blog, twitter, etc.) I can say whatever I want. Let me put it in other terms… I can damn fuckin’ well say whatever the bloody hell I goddamn want. I try not to say anything that would be detrimental to my friends, family, colleagues, or employers. However, since this is my space to express my personal opinions, I am going to use it for that when I want to. They are my opinions, and whether they are substantiated by fact or not doesn’t matter. If you don’t like what I have to say, unfriend me, stop following me, or ignore the posts of mine that you disagree with. The internet is a big place, if you don’t like me, I am sure you can find someone out there to like.
However, if you don’t like me and you want to discuss it, make a big deal about it, or even try to shut me up, then take it up with me. You don’t need to hide behind the shield of emails to my employers who couldn’t care less about your petty conflicts of opinion. You know what it says to me? If you are so scared to confront me directly then you are obviously scared of me and of what I have to say. If you are scared of what I have to say, if it makes you question your moral values, if it makes you stop and think “Oh shit, there are people out there with opinions that aren’t the same as mine, but make sense…” then I have done what I set out to do. If I made you think, if I made you question, then good!
My opinions may sometimes be misguided. Sometimes they may be based on information that is incomplete or that I don’t fully understand. I am happy to discuss my opinions, and I am happy to explore all sides of an issue. I do have core beliefs that no one is going to shake. I believe that there are basic civil and human rights that everyone in this country (and hopefully the world) should have. I believe that there should be religious freedom and that so long as people don’t tell me what to believe, I won’t tell them what to believe. I believe in freedom of speech and expression, if you don’t like what I have to say, don’t listen. I know what I believe, but I am willing to discuss and debate, and adjust when presented with a compelling argument.
So, to my mystery would-be censor, you tried and you failed. Maybe you should take the high road and speak up for yourself, tell me why you think that my employer should have any say on my personal life and my personal opinions. Or, I suppose, you could take the low road, unfriend or block me. I won’t care. I won’t be hurt if you leave, I probably won’t even know, and I definitely won’t care. The next time you disagree with me though, take it up with me, don’t take the cowardly, passive-agressive stance. Lastly, I am not going to stop voicing my opinion. I have as much right to voice my opinion as anyone else, and just because you [think you] may have some form of relationship or influence with my employer does not give you any right or justification for taking such an issue to them!