What Is It, Exactly, That Twitter's Conservative Employees Are Afraid To Say At Work?
In an interview today with Recode, Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey expounded on how sad he feels about how conservatives who work at Twitter do not feel "safe" expressing their opinions at work. He did not expound on what this even meant -- whether they were afraid they would be socially ostracized, or fired for said opinions -- or what it even was that they so desperately wanted to say. Just that they felt "silenced."
I think it's more and more important to at least clarify what our own bias leans towards, and just express it. I'd rather know what someone biases to rather than try to interpret through their actions. So, if we can say that, and also have the freedom to evolve and change, then at least people know it, and I think it allows us to remove that a little bit more from the work, but it has to be proven out in our actions as well, so ... I mean, we have a lot of conservative-leaning folks in the company as well, and to be honest, they don't feel safe to express their opinions at the company.
They do feel silenced by just the general swirl of what they perceive to be the broader percentage of leanings within the company, and I don't think that's fair or right. We should make sure that everyone feels safe to express themselves within the company, no matter where they come from and what their background is.
See, here's the thing with that! Not everyone needs to express themselves all of the time. Sometimes, it is inappropriate -- rude, even -- to share everything you are thinking. For instance, I may pass a stranger on the street and think that their outfit is hideous. Do I need to tell them about this? No! I do not! If that person then tells me to fuck off, which makes me reconsider saying the same thing to another person down the line, am I being silenced? No, I am just not being rude.
What are these things, exactly, that conservatives so desperately need to say, at work, that they feel they cannot? Do these things involve insulting other people? If so, maybe this isn't so much about about silencing people's political opinions so much as it is about basic manners.
At the end of the day, though, what this really all about is about social power. This is about the same instinct that makes certain people think that snapping their fingers at waitstaff makes them look fancy. There is a lot of social power wrapped up in being able to say or do something insulting to someone, and to have everyone continue to blow smoke up your ass. Just ask anyone who has ever been on any episode of "My Super Sweet 16." Just ask Johnny Lawrence from The Karate Kid or any of the Heathers or Regina George. Just ask Donald "If you're a celebrity, they just let you do it" Trump. This is not about expressing a political opinion, this is about having the power to be an asshole and get away with it because people are too afraid to stand up to you.
Everyone has the right to their opinion, but no one has the right to their opinion being well-received. No one has the right to be well-liked or popular. Like many people here, on Planet Earth, I have been in myriad situations where my opinion was not the popular one. Hell, I literally grew up in one and lived there for 10 years. I have taken stands in situations that made people dislike me. It did not shut me up, because I believed in what I was doing and saying and that mattered to me more than anything else. It certainly mattered to me more than being popular with or accepted by people to whom those things did not matter. I cannot even begin to fathom this mattering. It didn't matter to me in grade school, and it sure as hell doesn't matter to me now. I know far too many people who have stood by their principles, or who were bravely themselves at times when being themselves was not the popular or convenient thing to be to shed one goddamned tear for conservatives who are sad that they can't tell everyone they work with about how much they hate immigrants or how women are inferior in their ladybrains or whatever without people disliking them.
Are there people who might dislike someone for saying they voted for Trump? Sure! I would! I also have people who are still furious at me for having voted for Bernie in the primary (even though I voted for Clinton in the general and have never said a single bad word about her). Does that make me feel silenced? Nope. People are welcome to dislike me for any reason they choose, up to and including them not liking the cut of my hair or my jib, or the fact that I do not even have a jib because I am not a boat.
I am probably going to continue ranting about this all the livelong day, but you all may talk about this AND also whatever you want, because it is now your OPEN THREAD.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse