Wednesday, July 12, 2017

The Wallet Vote

So there was a posting on LinkedIn that was mainly a complaint about another posting, that was itself a complain about women being lazy, and sitting on their butts "complete with graphics of various shaped women's rear ends - no I'm not kidding and I do mean today, in 2017." The post ended with: "It's time to ask LinkedIn and other social media sites aimed at professionals to stay professional and limit bullying and misogyny."

But the problem isn't that LinkedIn allows people to post things that others may, with complete justification, consider to be bullying, misogynistic or simply unprofessional (the constant "like" farming comes immediately to mind). The problem is that you can post inappropriate or unprofessional items to LinkedIn without this being considered a career-limiting-move. Remember, the whole point of LinkedIn is to network; to be able to get your name in front of people. A LinkedIn profile is effectively a form of résumé. If you can, in an open internet forum that supposedly has your real name attached to it, engage in "bullying and misogyny," without consequence, then the issue isn't with LinkedIn.

When some guy snarkily makes a post about women's backsides, and is called on the carpet the next week, because his post has caused the company's sales to slide 2.5%, you'll quickly see that sort of behavior go the way of the dodo. Sure, there are concerns, and they are valid, about companies policing their employee's social media presence. And some companies will discipline or fire people for saying things that are socially acceptable, or even laudable, but that make management or owners uncomfortable. But I'm not sure that such a scenario is much worse than LinkedIn taking over that policing function to prevent semi-activist users from being exposed to something that most of the user base doesn't care anything about.

But in the end, this is what activism is all about - getting people to forgo something that they find worthwhile to do something about things they find reprehensible. It's about getting people to vote with their feet, and with their wallets, to create the world that people say they want to live in, rather than looking to corporate entities to be the enforcement mechanism of our personal sense of enlightenment.

The best way to encourage good behavior we desire is to reward it. One of my fathers lessons to me as a child was that "You should always reward those who have done you a service." And while it grates sometimes to treat what we may understand as basic human decency as a service done for us, that, in the end, is exactly what it is. And we can reward it, at least in part, by punishing those two behave in ways that we find reprehensible. It's tempting to outsource that task to corporations to which we have already ceded a degree of power over our lives. But it seems like a bad idea in the end, because power, by its very nature, can be put to a multitude of purposes.

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