Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Freedom At Facebook

In this very breath that we take now lies the secret that all great teachers try to tell us.

---Peter Matthiessen

Zen is not some kind of excitement, but concentration on our usual everyday routine.

---Shunryu Suzuki

When sitting, just sit. Above all, don't wobble.


I have an online friend whom I met about 10 years ago. We've never met in person. She has a position at a major university. Yesterday morning on Facebook she posted a comment about a funeral home in her town, and the way obituaries customarily are handled. She was critical and a few people posted in agreement. In the afternoon she was summoned into the office of her supervisor for a little talk.

It seems the owner had caught wind of the comment and thread, who my friend is, and phoned the university. I suppose the exact content of that conversation is confidential, but the upshot was my friend had to take down the post and publish an apology. What she apologized for was not the content of her opinion exactly, but rather that she had made the content "in such a public forum."

I have a lot of empathy for what my friend just went through, and I mentioned it this morning to my wife. She asked, "How are you supposed to complain about something if not in a public forum?" I said, "In Free Market America, you're supposed to take your hat in hand and privately write the enterprise a polite letter stating your views. They will reply either that they are taking your comment into consideration or else shove it in your hat."

Apparently public forums are for criticizing elected representatives only. Banks, insurance companies, big box stores, local attorneys? You better watch out. It's never been easier to replace you at your job. And if you have seniority, they save money too. My friend's experience is one more example of the kind of fear that grips America today. Why didn't anybody blow the whistle on BP and Wall Street? I rest my case.

As for Facebook, I must say it's refreshing when somebody states a serious thought in there. It is to me anyway. A survey about whether a friend should open a window or turn on the air conditioner doesn't really entertain me all that say nothing of fulfilling my life. Well, actually I guess turning on the air conditioner is pretty serious business in this---er---Climate. Which reminds me, it's starting to get too warm outside to get hot under the collar.


Liberality said...

Guess I won't be getting a Facebook account anytime too soon yet.

In a really free country the citizens are the ones who should be free--not businesses to fire you.

jazzolog said...

The person I referred to in the article would like everyone to know she confesses taking down the article and apologizing was her idea. She says she was impressed with the "professionalism" of the two gentlemen, who apparently have known each other socially for some time.

Ah yes, the men's club approach. Sixty years ago in America if a woman ... See Morecomplained to or about a proprietor, that guy would call the woman's husband about it. If she didn't have a husband, her father or the equivalent would have to do. Fifty years ago things started to change, and 40 years ago the proprietor probably finally would have called the woman herself.

But for me the bottom line remains if a proprietor calls one's workplace to inquire about one's behavior outside and on one's own time, that is intimidation...and if those 2 guys are buddies, the situation is even worse. Sixty years ago in America if anyone complained to or about a proprietor or the business, the owner would bend over backwards to appease that client or perspective customer. The Customer Is Always Right was no cliche then. It reflected that a corporation was there to serve the community.

Fifty years ago things started to change. Forty years ago there was considerable tension as to whether corporation or community was dominant in the relationship. Thirty years ago the tables had turned: the community served the corporation or else! Or else what? We go, or outsource overseas.

That is the thrust of what I was trying to say this morning. It is important in America's history to note how that power arrangement has shifted. I'm sure any labor historian would agree. The exact machinations and social norms of the particular situation I described fade in the reality of what our nation is facing in unemployment and the economy. The Free Marketeers have had their way without regulation...and here we are. What happened to my friend yesterday is how they've done it.

jazzolog said...

One aspect of an article like this, in which I mention another person, is to keep identities so vague that Google will not pick anything up which might cause unwanted publicity. In that regard, Van Jones has a fine opinion piece in this morning's Times~~~

Op-Ed Contributor
Shirley Sherrod and Me
Published: July 24, 2010

I UNDERSTAND how Shirley Sherrod, the Agriculture Department official who was forced to resign last week, must have felt.

Last year I, too, resigned from an administration job, after I uttered some ill-chosen words about the Republican Party and was accused — falsely — of signing my name to a petition being passed around by 9/11 conspiracy theorists. Partisan Web sites and pundits pounced, and I, too, saw my name go from obscurity to national infamy within hours....

jazzolog said...

Particularly brilliant Frank Rich yesterday, along these same lines~~~

July 24, 2010

There’s a Battle Outside and It Is Still Ragin’

THE glittering young blonde in a low-cut gown is sipping champagne in a swank Manhattan restaurant back in the day when things were still swank. She is on a first date with an advertising man as dashing as his name, Don Draper. So you don’t really expect her to break the ice by talking about bad news. “The world is so dark right now,” she says. “One of the boys killed in Mississippi, Andrew Goodman — he’s from here. A girlfriend of mine knew him from summer camp.” Her date is too busy studying her d├ęcolletage, so she fills in the dead air. “Is that what it takes to change things?” she asks. He ventures no answer.

This is just one arresting moment — no others will be mentioned here — in the first episode of the new “Mad Men” season premiering tonight. Like much in this landmark television series, the scene haunts you in part because of what people don’t say and can’t say. “Mad Men” is about placid postwar America before it went smash. We know from the young woman’s reference to Goodman — one of the three civil rights activists murdered in Philadelphia, Miss., in June 1964 — that the crackup is on its way. But the characters can’t imagine the full brunt of what’s to come, and so a viewer in 2010 is left to contemplate how none of us, then or now, can see around the corner and know what history will bring.

This country was rightly elated when it elected its first African-American president more than 20 months ago. That high was destined to abate, but we reached a new low last week. What does it say about America now, and where it is heading, that a racial provocateur, wielding a deceptively edited video, could not only smear an innocent woman but make every national institution that touched the story look bad? The White House, the N.A.A.C.P. and the news media were all soiled by this episode. Meanwhile, the majority of Americans, who believe in fundamental fairness for all, grapple with the poisonous residue left behind by the many powerful people of all stripes who served as accessories to a high-tech lynching.

Anonymous said...

Facebook Blocks ads for Pot legalization campaign:

For a typical college student, if it didn't happen on Facebook, it didn't happen. That gives the social networking behemoth an out-sized influence on the confines of political debate, if that debate falls outside what Facebook deems acceptable discourse.
"I took a look at your account and noticed that the content advertised by this ad is prohibited," a Facebook representative wrote. "We reserve the right to determine what advertising we accept, and we may choose to not accept ads containing or relating to certain products or services. We do not allow ads for marijuana or political ads for the promotion of marijuana and will not allow the creation of any further Facebook Ads for this product. We appreciate your cooperation with this policy."
While Facebook is banning the ad, a number of conservative and liberal blogs and news outlets have agreed to run it beginning on Tuesday. The Nation, The New Republic, Human Events, Red State, Antiwar, Reason, Drug War Rant, Stop The Drug War, Daily Paul, Lew Rockwell, The Young Turks, MyDD, AmericaBlog, Pam's House Blend and Raw Story are among them.