Freedom of Speech, No Freedom from Consequence

Like any blogging keener, I was thrilled when I had the chance to be interviewed for a shitty little online thingie, whoring my blogsa couple years back, maybe even three. Somehow, like the ignorant little blogger I was, I blurted my full name out, and the fucking twit who interviewed me somehow failed to grasp my meaning when I said “Don’t use my name” and I was outted as the authoress of a blog that had sexual content with my full name attached, yielding some 20,000 hits or something dumb-ass like that.

The last couple years have been fraught with unemployment (mostly my own fault, I realize now, in retrospect) and I have spent much time on the job-hunting prowl.

I know for a fact that my outting with this blog has affected me professionally. I have lost one job for this blog, failed to get a few I should have been a lock for (inexplicably, too), and was threatened with the loss of another. My last employer found out about my blog four months into my working there, and instructed me that I could never, ever write about my job. I was asked to delete postings, and kept under an uncertain job-security shadow for the last two months before I forfeited my position.

The internet can, and will, affect your life if you cross the perceived bounds of what is “normalized” behaviour.

I am fortunate I am in good with this great family I work for now. They know of my writing in all its forms, encourage me to continue it, accommodate my life in every way, but come with the small drawback that I could be laid off for up to 6 weeks a year… or not at all. But the rest of the time, I work when I want, for anything between 35-45 hours a week, on my whim, or as workload may dictate (to which I’m always allowed to say no). But… what great people.

And I know firsthand that they are very much the exception to the average employment rule. The people I’ve worked for in the last three years really don’t hold a fucking candle.

The internet is not your friend, so don’t kid yourself. There are daunting tales emerging about people who are having disastrous effect from their inability to censor more reckless thoughts on the web. You may think your innocuous little Facebook status alerts are cutesy and amusing, but they’re snapshots that make up a very, very complete picture for potential employers… and even potential dates.

Your internet behaviour, including that on internet dating sites, can, and will, affect you both professionally and personally. Vigilance is warranted, even demanded.

I have known for a very, very long time that I have been outted in the blogosphere. I decided a long time ago that any one of a number of postings had pretty much shattered any conservative credibility I had, so I figured why start censoring myself now?

But you probably haven’t paid such a price now, and if there’s any way to limit the permeability of your Facebook, MySpace, or any other social networking page, then you’d better ensure you start conforming a bit.

Me, I think we’re at a premie stage of all this. I think a few years are going to pass and all of a sudden a huge awakening will dawn upon us all and a realization will collectively form that: Everyone has skeletons in their closets.

The thing about microscopes is, they’re built to find imperfections. The internet, it’s the biggest microscope of them all.

Two, three, five years ago, or even 13 years ago, who knew the permanence of these five-second comments we’d leave on the web? Now, anything from ’96 or so on is found in the cache of that uber-engine, Google.

I left my last job because they found out about my blog and “didn’t know” what to make of it. I could smell my blood on a spit and knew my days were numbered, so when I found out my old employers wished I would return, I leapt at the chance. I was tired of feeling I had to censure my postings so that I wouldn’t offend my mealticket.

But fuck that now.

And fuck censoring it for anyone. Who’s kidding who? Blew that years ago. Now it’s all about finding employers and people who fit my definition of “right” and it’s a price I’ll continue to pay, all because some fuckwit published my name when I’d done everything in my power not to have my name known, and because I refuse to try and pretend I’m something I’m not, but most of all because I refuse to apologize when I know I’ve done nothing wrong. After all, I’ve been told this is a free country and we had freedom of practice, so I thought I’d be crazy and take ’em all on their word. Free. That’s us, right? Free to say what we think, whenever we wish to speak it?

Or, maybe not so much. Wouldn’t that suck, though?

Que sera sera, man. Read this International Herald Tribune article and it’ll smack some reality check into ya. Whew. Heady times, baby. Give it five years. Things’ll start being digested with a grain of salt. Until then, though, and maybe a little after too, watch yer ass, minions. Watch yer ass.