my company’s bad decision got me yelled at online (and socially)

A reader writes:

I’m a mid-senior level employee at an imprint of one of the big 5 publishing houses. Publishing, as you may have noticed if you follow the news, is an increasingly controversy-prone industry; over the past couple of years, especially, it seems like there’s a new kerfuffle or scandal happening every week. Sometimes the outrage in reaction to various books and editorial decisions is warranted; other times it isn’t. Like most conversations that play out primarily on social media, there isn’t a lot of room for nuance, which makes it risky for employees to weigh in, lest our words be used against us by strangers online or provide an opportunity for retaliation at work.

My employers made the news recently in a situation where I do think the outrage and pushback they got was warranted. However, employees at publishing houses are put in this odd position where the work we do is a matter of public interest and entertainment, although we’re not public figures ourselves. When a book makes the news due to real or perceived offenses, we often get vitriolic feedback from both sides: those who found it offensive, and those who think someone else being offended by a book is tantamount to burning the Library of Alexandria. This is manageable when it’s located on the company social media channels, for which I’m not responsible and can just ignore, but during the last firestorm I actually got some angry messages from strangers on my own personal social media platforms — despite never even having met the editor who acquired the controversial book, or even working for the same imprint. (My assumption is that they either looked up employees on LinkedIn or noticed my company listed in my biographical information on other social media sites, but I still don’t know what they thought they’d accomplish by yelling at me.)

If that wasn’t irritating enough, I found myself fielding questions about that decision from people I only knew socially, both online and in real life, and really felt like my hands were tied. I had nothing to do with the decision that made people angry, and in fact was pretty angry myself, but it’s never a good idea to go around bad-mouthing your company’s leadership outside of school when you don’t know who it’ll get back to; at the same time, when people are outraged, they generally want you to be outraged as well, and failing to express an adequate amount of anger is often read as tacit approval of the thing causing the outrage. Which, as you might guess, can be risky in the perpetual outrage machine that is the publishing news cycle. Saying “I really can’t talk about that” would seem like the best way to respond, but some people really do not take no for an answer, and I’m very wary of becoming the subject of rumors that I actually supported a decision I had nothing to do with and actually loathed!

I guess my question is, how do I navigate these conversations if (or when) they happen in the future? I love my job and have few complaints. It’s challenging and not always glamorous, but I have great colleagues and I’m proud of the work we do! Plus, being active on social media is important for networking and developing relationships with agents and authors; I’m not inclined to simply quit using Twitter because some users cross the line now and then. Is there a happy medium?

Well, first, you’re never obligated to respond to strangers who contact you on your personal social media, especially rude or angry ones. Delete and ignore with abandon!

Handling it with people you know socially is a little trickier, but you can still set boundaries. For example:

* “I have opinions about that, but I’m sure you understand I’m constrained in what I can say.”
* “It’s not my imprint and it happened far away from the part of the business I’m involved with. But because it’s my employer, I don’t feel comfortable commenting on it publicly.”
* “I completely get your outrage, but because of my employer it’s not something I can discuss.”

If people still push you for more:

* “Again, I of course have thoughts on this, but it’s really not something I’m able to discuss. I hope you understand.”
* “Again, because of my employer it’s not something I feel I can discuss.”

Someone who pushes after that is being quite rude, and at that point you can say, “I don’t think you understand me. Because of my employer I can’t discuss this.” And then turn away or obviously change the subject.

And if you get the sense someone interprets all of this as indicating you support your publisher’s decision, say explicitly, “I said nothing about my opinion on this because I don’t feel I’m in a position to do that.”

Also, if you’re talking to someone where you feel comfortable saying a little more, I don’t think it’s transgressing a huge boundary to say, “Yeah, it’s outside the area I work in so I’m not privy to everything that went into it, but I was (surprised / upset / would like to think my division wouldn’t do that / etc.).” You don’t want to get deep into trash-talking your employer, of course, but especially with this kind of highly public controversy, it’s usually okay to convey, “Yeah, I’m unhappy about that too.”

{ 145 comments… read them below }

  1. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Personally, if anyone attacked me on my personal social media for something my employer did, I’d probably block and report them for harassment. Regardless of who they are. If you’re actually my friend, you’re not going to do that sort of thing.

    1. Alli525*

      Yes, this… and if it starts to become a pattern (and not just related to this specific incident – I wonder if it was the Woody Allen memoir?) OP may want to consider locking down their social media accounts so that they’re private or unsearchable.

      1. HoHumDrum*

        I mean we can all make guesses based on what’s been controversial in the last few months, but I imagine LW is trying to keep this vague on purpose. I thought it was an AAM not to try to speculate on what company LWs are talking about?

    2. Count Boochie Flagrante*

      Agreed. I’ve found my online experience became much more pleasant in general when I dropped any inhibitions I used to have about blocking people I don’t know, don’t care about, and who managed to drift across my attention via “someone you like follows someone who participated in this conversation” functions that seem all too common nowadays.

      If someone’s looked you up out of nowhere to give you guff about a decision you had no part in, don’t hesitate to block them. There’s really no value to you in leaving them unblocked; they aren’t there for a substantive discussion.

      1. logicbutton*

        By the way: on Twitter, if you go to the top of your timeline and click the sparkle icon across from the word “Home,” you can switch to Latest Tweets view, which will show you only the tweets of people you follow and their retweets, in reverse chronological order. Sometimes when you start a new session you’ll be reset to Home view; just go ahead and switch back. I’ve heard some people say that this doesn’t get “all of it,” but I’m not really sure what that means. Not that I don’t believe them, but I’ve been doing it as long as the functionality has been available, and even after updates, I’ve never seen anything in Latest Tweets view but the tweets of people I follow and their retweets (and promoted tweets).

      2. tired anon*

        I agree to this in general, but one word of caution for these publishing convos – people definitely use “And Editor X blocked me when I pointed out how bad the company was!!” as part of their outrage fuel. I have no idea if that would happen with someone who really isn’t involved at all, but who knows.

        (My money is on this being about American Dirt, but as someone who follows publishing twitter there are a LOT of possibilities…)

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Yeah, that book really bugs me (but my reaction has been 1) I’m not going to read it, and 2) if my friends ask why, I will tell them), but to be honest, there are so many controversies in publishing I could list off a dozen of them, starting with the whole “Sad Puppies” thing at the Hugos a few years back.

          As for people saying someone blocked them…well, more people need to be blocked, which means that more people need to block. These idiots need to understand that free speech doesn’t mean consequence-free speech. If they get blocked for being an idiot (or worse), then they get blocked. They’ve got to learn that they can’t expect everyone to have the same opinion as them.

          Idiots gonna idiot.

          1. Leah K.*

            I saw someone on social media post something along the lines of: “You have the right to your opinion. That doesn’t mean I need to hear it.” I like that approach.

        2. Bee*

          Yeah, this is definitely something to keep in mind here. I’d recommend muting over blocking, because there’s way less ire to be raised out of “they didn’t respond to my tweet!”

          (I was going to guess Woody Allen myself! But I think you’re closer.)

          1. Proofin' Amy*

            I think probably American Dirt, because after all, Hachette employees walked out to protest the Woody Allen memoir. (Of course, Skyhorse picked up anyway, but….) Probably not My Dark Vanessa, because I think that ended up being a far more nuanced situation and that ultimately went quiet.

            Book Twitter is a dumpster fire so much of the time, unfortunately. The whole RWA thing now feels like it happened a million years ago.

            1. ThatGirl*

              Wait Skyhorse picked it up? That’s so disappointing. (I know the person Skyhorse is named after though he has no affiliation with the.)

        3. Quill*

          Yeah, my brain went “this is either American Dirt or Woody Allen, because the RWA isn’t about *publishing*”

          1. JustaTech*

            Eh, it could also have been that huge thing a few months ago about only letting libraries buy one digital copy of a new books for the first 5 months the book is out (I don’t remember which publisher it was).

            Doesn’t really matter because in the end the result is the same: don’t hassle people because of decisions made way up the food chain at the place where they work.

        4. BRR*

          I just want to remind people we shouldn’t try and discuss what it is to try and respect the lw’s privacy (and I’m extra aware of this after I did that to one letter and got it right ugh). Although I think there are way too many choices to even figure it out.

            1. I coulda been a lawyer*

              And it’s likely to annoy the LW and make their life worse for the stress of reading it. I understand the curiosity, but if I was the LW I’d prefer to be supported.
              My employers have very strict social media requirements and even saying “Sorry, not allowed to comment on a post related to my employer” can generate a reprimand. And I’m so far from the decision making … I order the paint for teapots. I don’t design them or hire talent that does. I don’t pay the bills. I don’t even know the people who do any of those things. But if I admit on social media that I have an hourly temporary job in a teapot-related company it can get me fired.

                1. JSPA*

                  Some companies worry about spoofed emails. “Hey boss I forgot the login into Important System” or “Hey accounts, secretary sent me overdue paint invoice, can you handle ASAP.” If it’s not someone the public needs to know about, they’re happier having person be shadowy. Doesn’t sound like this applies here though, as multiple people find OP and know what they (approx) do, and OP wrote in looking for scripts / methods.

      3. epi*

        This. I often see the attitude that blocking is just for avoiding criticism or having to see opinions you disagree with. But blocking is a straight up safety issue for people who are being harassed. Even if it never escalates beyond online flaming, the experience is horrible for the mental health of the person being targeted and for anyone who has to witness it. You have every right to use social media in a positive way that benefits you and others; don’t let someone ruin it for you without trying out the available options. Especially right now.

        Many people who do this are specifically looking for a reaction– if not to draw you into an argument, then to hound you off the platform or otherwise get evidence that they scared you or made you feel bad. It may feel like blocking them is giving them what they want, but it deprives them of the opportunity to get any other reaction out of you, ever again. It can just as easily be taken as criticism or rejection, rather than being scared. And it makes the platform boring and useless for the people who actually shouldn’t be using it, rather than those who are contributing and behaving appropriately.

        I have seen long-term trolls leave communities I am a part of once blocking became available, or they crossed a line that led to lots of people finally blocking them. I’ve also found that having to read mean and harassing messages mixed in can make the whole community feel more negative than it really is. I’ve hesitated before to block people who were very active, because I thought I wouldn’t even be able to follow the interesting parts any conversations they had been a part of. I was wrong, and with them blocked I was able to see that most of the activity was really between people who were not behaving badly at all.

        1. Avasarala*

          Plus with all of this, it’s one thing to complain to the company’s official Twitter. It’s another to seek out their payroll person or graphic designer or editor in a different department and harass that individual because they’re a representative of their whole company somehow.

  2. New Jack Karyn*

    How about something like, “I don’t love it, but it’s way outside my lane. It would be like asking someone in the navy to give an opinion on something the army was responsible for.”

    1. Texan In Exile*

      Or even something the navy was responsible for! The sailors don’t comment on what the admirals decide! At least, not publicly!

    2. Venus*

      I’ll stick my comment here as it relates to the military:
      A lot of military also get an ear-full from people who aren’t happy with the decisions at the top. Is a member of the public upset with the decision to invade Iraq? Good for them, but imposing their opinion on someone who spent a year in Iraq is not helping anyone.

      One suggestion is to point out that you weren’t the one who made the decision, and that opinions can be redirected to the public social media page, or whatever place is best. “I appreciate that you don’t agree with the decision, and it will be much more effective if you say as much to them by emailing the CEO / commenting on Facebook / sharing on Twitter. I work for a completely different group and have no visibility on that project.”

      1. JSPA*

        “Nobody asked my opinion.”

        “Not even remotely something I’d have input on.”

        “This is like complaining to the meat department about the icing on the donuts.”

        “When you don’t like the casting in a movie, do you complain to the popcorn vendor?”

        None of it may work, though. A lot of people who do this have deeper category confusion. They will complain about the color of the seats or the routing of the bus to the driver, because she “must” have a way to “let someone know.” Or they’ll tell the cashier that the produce manager is incompetent, please pass it along, because they don’t have time to speak to a manager or write a complaint to corporate. “How can you live with yourself, working for X, if they published Y” is a question that most people who’ve ever needed to work for anyone, for a living, wouldn’t dream of asking.

        “I love my job and am glad to have it, even though I don’t have the sort of decision – making power you apparently think I have” might bring some few to their senses.

  3. Mama Bear*

    Agreed. Anyone who stalked me as a Random Jane to complain about a company decision is not someone whose opinion I was likely to change anyway. If warranted, I’d FYI it to HR/legal but otherwise just delete.

    1. WellRed*

      Right? Who the heck has time for that kind of stalking? If you’re that upset about certain actions/societal ills put all that spare time to volunteering for a cause that fights it.

      1. Mongrel*

        It’s all part of the fun (/s), partisan tribalism that seems to have replaced reasoned online debate. (See also ‘Gabes Internet F***wad theory
        Some people deliberately hunt out things to get offended by and as gets more traction it can become self-sustaining.
        Others stem from groups with access to large groups of followers, they have a ready-made swarm of flying monkeys to throw poop over any comments section.

  4. WorkIsADarkComedy*

    Many people just assume you represent your company, without even thinking.

    If someone you know is persistent in their questioning, you can tell them you’re not a representative of your company, you just mop the floors or whatever, and tell them to call the complaint line.

  5. Caramel & Cheddar*

    To Alison’s point of “Well, first, you’re never obligated to respond to strangers who contact you on your personal social media, especially rude or angry ones. Delete and ignore with abandon!”, I’d also advise using whatever settings are available to you on social media to avoid even seeing those kinds of response on the first place.

    I’m not sure about other sites like FB or Instagram, but on Twitter, go into your settings and mute notifications from people with new accounts, people using the default profile photo, and people who haven’t confirmed their email and/or phone number. This usually cuts back on unsolicited interactions from accounts that were created just to harass people, and also people who aren’t regular users but keep an account active just for moments like this. There are more mute options beyond that (e.g. people who don’t follow you) that you can use as well depending on how restrictive you want to be. I find this useful for just regular browsing, but they’re helpful tools during a PR crisis that has nothing to do with you as well.

    (In a browser, you can access this via the More button your your profile page and then going to Settings and Privacy > Notifications > Filters > Advanced Filters)

    1. Jdc*

      Agree. I can’t receive messages from anyone I don’t know on any social media platform, for no other real reason than I simply don’t care to speak to whoever it may be if I don’t know them.

  6. General von Teapot*

    I think this is more an exercise in creating healthy boundaries and realizing that no one is owed an answer and no is a complete sentence.

    You don’t owe anyone your opinion.

  7. AnonforThis*

    I work in a field where this happens. We have a some strategies I think could help.

    1. We have a designated office to answer media and third party questions. Whenever a newsworthy event occurs they send out an all staff reminder with standard language of “I cannot comment on Y, please direct all inquiries to X contact info.” Make a clear line of correct inquiry and pass it on.
    2. I am very clear with friends and family I can’t speak for my workplace. “Oh, you know I can’t comment on that. Did you watch Jeopardy last night?”
    3. We have a strategy for public communications that are threatening. We forward all emails and communications with threats in them to our security office.

  8. anon for this*

    I have two different routes with things where I don’t want to give out information. One is the terse, boring version. “OMG, did your company just publish a book that said Harvey Weinstein is awesome?” “I don’t comment about my company.” “But how can you work for a company like that?” “No comment.” “Blah blah surely you don’t think….” “No comment.”

    The other is the full explanation. “I have a policy about not commenting on stuff my company does, outside of pride in my actual, direct work. If and when I move to another job, you will get allllll of my opinions, positive and negative, but I’ve seen too many people get burned by what they thought was a harmless comment, so it’s a complete no-go for me. An ode to Goebbels or a guide to the best fishing spots in Montana, I’m not saying a word.”

    1. The Cosmic Avenger*

      This is close to what I was thinking. I think it’s an important life skill to learn how to keep saying no and/or walk away from “people who won’t take no for an answer”. There’s a reason I don’t answer the phone if I don’t recognize the phone number, although before autodialers became so common, I learned to say “Please put me on your do not call list” and immediately hang up. Some of them were probably trying to curse me out, and some probably complied, but waiting for an answer would not change their response; the legit companies will comply, the scammers never will. Same with trolls, on social media and in real life. But for people I need to deal with, I can just keep saying “no, thank you” and variations on “I’d just rather not” (when they invariably ask why, looking for a reason to argue with) in a calm voice for as long as I need to.

  9. Cordoba*

    I’d be inclined to answer with some variation of “Do you agree with every decision *your* employer makes?”

    1. Phony Genius*

      My guess is that if such a person replied, it would take a form similar to “Yes; I’m required to.” But it would probably not be accurate.

      1. George*

        Their reply would be, yes, I’m self employed or unemployed, which is why I have so much time to get outraged.

        1. Batty Twerp*

          I’m ever so slightly offended that you think self-employed people have a) enough time to get this outraged and b) enough time to get on social media to harass some innocent unconnected employee! /tongueincheek
          Although right now, self-employed and unemployed are pretty much synonymous…

          1. Junior Assistant Peon*

            In my field, a lot of long-term unemployed people like to call themselves consultants on LinkedIn. I suspect most of them don’t have any actual clients!

            I definitely agree with needing lots of time on your hands to be outraged on the Internet. It seems like the most vocal keyboard activists among my Facebook friends are either unemployed or underemployed.

  10. SusanB*

    My sympathies. That’s so hard. I do social media occasionally for work and the level of vitriol when we make an unpopular decision is a lot to deal with. Even when I know people are just angry at my employer and not angry at me, it sucks to have all of that negativity directed your way. It’s hard to read ugliness – it’s not easy to shake it off.

    The other issue that I deal with is that I work at a school so often the information that the public has about a decision is not the full information and the full information can’t be legally shared. Like if a popular coach is accused of sexual harassment and fired because of it, we can’t disclose that. So I’ve had crowds of people coming at me with that anger “How dare you fire Coach Smith! The only reason they fired him is because he spoke out against administration and they were threatened by how many people liked him. How DARE YOU.” – no. It’s because he keeps trying to have sex with 17 year old girls. but keep thinking what you’re thinking. I can’t argue with you.

    So no advice but commiseration. You got good advice from AAM and the only other thing I’ll say is that people are enormously fickle and this too shall pass.

    1. JohannaCabal*

      This. In my own state there was a young child suspended, and the parents went to social media saying it was because his chewed up poptart looked like a gun. Cue nastygrams to the school. Then, some of the kids’ classmates’ parents came out and said it was because the child in question had been violent to classmates and staff.

      And of course “poptart kid” still comes up from time to time. Minus the follow-up, of course.

      You know, in 7th grade we had to read Avi’s Nothing but the Truth. Every year that book becomes more and more relevant.

    2. The Other Dawn*

      I don’t do social media for my company, but I still hate seeing some of the comments on our posts.

      I work for a very small community bank that has been around for over a century and has many great reviews with a solid customer base. We can post something like “this is how you can make a deposit any time of day using your cell phone” or “we hope you and your family are staying safe” and we’ll get a bunch of totally unrelated negative comments directed at the banking industry as a whole– they’re not even directed at us! It’s disheartening to see, because just about everyone who works here loves it, and many have been here for decades. But people take the opportunity to air their grievances about banks in general, especially the big banks, because they can from behind the safety of their computer screen.

  11. Jedi Squirrel*

    John Scalzi said straight up on his blog “I’m not your outrage monkey.”

    I learned from an early age that nobody’s obligated to be outraged about the same things I’m outraged about, but that was largely because I had a mother responded by saying “So what are you going to do about it?”

    People like this are irksome at the very least. They need to find ways to channel their outrage into something productive, rather than assaulting total strangers over social media. Good grief!

  12. LGC*

    LW – would you be able to limit messaging and comments on your social media pages to only people you’re connected with during controversies? It’s easy to say that you can delete hurtful (or even just bothersome) comments, but as I’ve found out…that sometimes requires you to look at those comments to begin with.

    I’m also in agreement that you don’t have to bend over backwards to support your employer when they do something shady. There is some risk, as there’s always some risk, but there’s a huge difference between admitting that you think a book your publisher acquired was a bad idea to a close friend and tweeting it out to the world.

  13. Governmint Condition*

    Try working for the government. Some people will automatically assume that by doing so, you must support whomever is in power. Such people have no concept of how civil service works.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      This. Doesn’t matter which party is in power, or whether you support them or not. Someone has to buy the damned toilet paper.

    2. Amy Sly*

      To quote the best documentary on the workings of government ever, “Yes Minister”:

      Bernard Woolley: If it’s our job to carry out government policies, shouldn’t we believe in them?

      Sir Humphrey Appleby: Huh, what an extraordinary idea.

      Bernard Woolley: Why?

      Sir Humphrey Appleby: Bernard, I have served eleven governments in the past thirty years. If I had believed in all their policies, I would have been passionately committed to keeping out of the Common Market, and passionately committed to going into it. I would have been utterly convinced of the rightness of nationalising steel. And of denationalising it and renationalising it. On capital punishment, I’d have been a fervent retentionist and an ardent abolishionist. I would’ve been a Keynesian and a Friedmanite, a grammar school preserver and destroyer, a nationalisation freak and a privatisation maniac; but above all, I would have been a stark, staring, raving schizophrenic.

      1. an infinite number of monkeys*

        I LOVE “Yes, Minister.” I work at a U.S. state agency and that show does such an amazing job of encapsulating the way government works.

        It’s also because of this work experience that when anybody suggests some vast, longstanding, far-reaching government conspiracy or cover-up, I laugh and laugh.

        1. Cordoba*

          I really enjoy the people who both think the government is totally incompetent AND also orchestrating a complex decades-long conspiracy requiring detailed plans and meticulous timing.

          1. nonegiven*

            To paraphrase Douglas Adams: The job of government is not to wield power but to draw attention away from it.

          2. Llama Face!*

            “I really enjoy the people who both think the government is totally incompetent AND also orchestrating a complex decades-long conspiracy requiring detailed plans and meticulous timing.”

            Ah, I see you’ve met the people who call in to my office!

        2. Tau*

          As the 2010s wore on, I began to be wistful about conspiracy theories. Like, you believe that somewhere in the world there are people in the shadows controlling everything who are competent, and highly effective, and informed about what’s going on. What a comforting idea! I really wish I could share it, it would help me sleep at night.

          Needless to say, 2020 hasn’t changed this opinion much so far.

          1. Jedi Squirrel*

            Lol! This is why I wish the aliens would invade. They would definitely have to have their crap together to manage interstellar travel.

            1. LunaLena*

              “It’s amazing how good governments are, given their track records in almost every other field, at hushing up things like alien encounters. One reason may be that the aliens themselves are too embarrassed to talk about it.

              It’s not known why most of the space-going races of the universe want to undertake rummaging in Earthling underwear as a prelude to formal contact. But representatives of several hundred races have taken to hanging out, unsuspected by one another, in rural corners of the planet and, as a result of this, keep on abducting other would-be abductees. Some have been in fact abducted while waiting to carry out an abduction on a couple of aliens trying to abduct the aliens who were, as a result of misunderstood instructions, trying to form cattle into circles and mutilate crops.

              The planet Earth is now banned to all alien races until they can compare notes and find out how many, if any, real humans they have actually got. It is gloomily suspected that there is only one – who is big, hairy, and has very large feet.

              The truth may be out there, but the lies are inside your head.” – Terry Pratchett

    3. Brett*

      Most people have no idea how insane it can be working for local government. I gave up completely on twitter because of how awful it got at times. Everyone in my office used altered identifies on facebook (with the permission of facebook no less).

      But what really got to me were the death threats. We had a book in our office to keep pictures of people who had made credible death threats to kill people in our local agency, and there were over 200 pages in the book. Two of those people were arrested by the FBI attempting to buy explosives. I can remember at least four incidents where people were arrested in the parking lot with firearms in their vehicle. And three times, people made threats that specifically included _me_ on their list of people they intended to kill.

      My new company has a notorious reputation that gets it share of angry people. It is nothing close to what I dealt with just working local government.

      1. Chaordic One*

        This why the CSRs at many government agencies only give their last names and identify themselves as “Mr.,” “Ms.,” “Mrs.,” or “Miss.” Over the years, there have been several instances where low-level government employees who gave out their names have been harassed on social media (mostly FaceBook) , as well as at their homes (the information was publicly available on the internet and in phone directories).

      2. Chaordic One*

        Depending on the agency, you can always refer them to the people responsible for the decision, and say something along the lines of they could contact their president, senator, congressperson, state governor, state representative, county commissioner, mayor, alderperson something like that.

        1. Musereader*

          I work for the UK goverment in a call centre for benefits, i get the ‘don’t you think this is not enough for people to live on?’ Alllll the time, every single day in fact. My answer is that this amount was decided by MPs in parliment and you need to speak to your MP about it.

          Just say not my decision, nothing to do with me.

          1. Megpie71*

            My partner used to work for the social security agency here in Australia. The office he worked for was approximately 2 doors down the road from the office of the federal MP for the region. This proved very useful at complaint time. (The next member to be elected wound up locating their office elsewhere).

  14. MK*

    I am not active social media, but I often find myself fielding criticisism of decisions from other people/departments in my organization. However, because we are a goverment entity belonging to the Department of Justice, there are actually authorities that any citizen can lodge a complaint about things like that, so I refer them there. Do you know how many people took me up on that? Zero. Most people don’t want to go to the trouble to take relevant action, they just want to feel righteous about themselves by “calling out” the injustice to some random employee of the org who had the bad luck to be at the same party as them the week it all broke out. Not to mention that they are often misinformed and just plain wrong not only about whether it was a right decision or not, but often about what actually happened.

    All of this to say: OP, I think you are letting the fact that you agree with those people about the right or wrong of the situation fudge the plain fact that they are being jerks to you and don’t deserve that much consideration. Someone who tracks down the social media of a random employee of a huge company to complain about a decision they had nothing to do with isn’t an activist fighting for change, they just want to vent their frustrations and are looking for a punchbag. Someone who corners said random employee at a friendly brunch and takes them to task about the issue isn’t expressing righteous indignation, they are being plain rude.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I remember a retail job where an angry customer reamed me out over a little thing that company rules did not allow me to do. She used every cuss word you can think of and used them in combinations that were, um, creative.

      Finally she landed on, “I am going to report you to your district manager!” I said, “He’s right over there and has been watching us this entire time. You are welcome to go over and speak to him.” She was loud, the DM heard every single word. She stormed out the door.

      I was congratulated on keeping my cool. It was one of those rare times where it was amusing to watch her make a total a$$ of herself. Instead of being in hot water with the DM like she imagined, I got bonus points on that one. He probably would have just told her to take her business elsewhere.

      One tool I have found that works well for me is to say, “I am not speaking to you in that manner, because I don’t expect to be spoken to in that manner.” This gives me the setup to exit the conversation, “When you calm down [get your thoughts collected] we can talk.” OR “This is not something I can discuss with people outside of work [family, board members group, whatever relationship fits the subject matter].”

  15. Anon Ex-Amazon Tech Employee*

    I’m happy that I don’t have to personally deal with all the complaints people have about Amazon anymore. It happened a lot before, but I can’t imagine what it would be like now.

    1. Leela*

      People don’t get it, I hired for a local tech business in the same city as a massive Amazon base, and it was so, so easy to recruit people from there, they were dying to get out.

      Most people staying were only staying as long as they were because that’s when they became vested, and then they were looking to bounce the second they were.

      I, too, cannot imagine what it’s like to work for Amazon right now

      1. Anon For This*

        I know someone who’s a manager at Amazon. He says it’s been really stressful… and then he came down with coronavirus last week.

        1. JSPA*

          Which raises a fair point, that what feels like pointless venting, if it’s constant enough, may be a buried warning that you’ve come to treat as acceptable things that, if you tolerate them, may be more hazardous to your own life & happiness than its worth (even if you’re close to becoming vested). And that some of the people who, from your perspective, are bellyaching, may intend to be outraged not at you, but on your behalf, as well. Doesn’t make it less stressful. But that’d be the point. If the stress had driven him to a different job, he’d perhaps more likely be sitting home healthy, now.

  16. Junimo the Hutt*

    This is tricky, given how much you *have* to be active on social media in publishing, which nurses strangely long grudges (friend who worked for an agent had a run-in with an author who, upon discovering whom she worked for, said, “Oh, yes, the agency that rejected me!” Lady. You have SEVERAL bestselling novels and are a household name. Get over it.). But even with that, people targeting specific employees just want an outrage punching bag and muting/blocking them is perfectly acceptable, even in this industry. Their outrage doesn’t mean they’ve earned space in your head. Block ’em and live that blissful existence of Not Having to Put Up With Other People’s Crap.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      That story is hilarious! (Also, +1 for correct use of “whom.” Another recovering English major, I presume?)

      1. Junimo the Hutt*

        Thanks! Even more hilariously, it’s led to my friend now having a grudge against that author, so the chain continues. I get mistaken for an old English major a lot, but I’m just a grammar nerd. It’s helped my editor, though it did take a few rounds of headdesking to figure out when to use who vs. that.

    2. KoiFeeder*

      I feel like I know of that author, at least in the sense of “bestselling household name author who still, bafflingly, retains and speaks about a grudge against the agency/agencies which rejected her.”

  17. Jennifer*

    I think it’s fine to say to a close friend IN PRIVATE that you weren’t happy with the decision. It’s never a good idea to bad mouth your employer on social media but at the same time, it’s publishing, not the CIA.

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with using Alison script: “Yeah, it’s outside the area I work in so I’m not privy to everything that went into it, but I was (surprised / upset / would like to think my division wouldn’t do that / etc.).” Or “I was unhappy about that too.”

    I wouldn’t want to think a close friend of mine cosigned a truly heinous action on the part of their employer so vague answers would make me give them some side eye big time.

    1. NerdyKris*

      It really depends on how that person feels about releasing information. They might worry that you’ll share it. I wouldn’t look side eyed if a friend didn’t want to say anything bad about their company if they think the risk is too great. It’s just what they’re comfortable with.

      1. Jennifer*

        I mean if the decision is out there then it’s not confidential. That doesn’t make much sense. If this was the Woody Allen memoir debacle then with a very close friend I wouldn’t mind sharing my true feelings about it if I knew they’d keep my confidence. I vent to my friends and spouse about things that irritate me at work and vice versa.

        If you’re a journalist or CIA agent or in some other job where you can’t talk to anyone outside of work about it, then I get it. But that doesn’t apply here.

        1. NerdyKris*

          I meant their opinion. They might not feel comfortable about their opinion possibly getting back to their employer. It’s not a moral failing on their part that their comfort level is lower. There’s a post on AAM where a person having a private text conversation on their personal phone was fired because the person behind them on the bus took a picture of it and sent it to their employer. Someone not wanting to take a risk shouldn’t make you look side eyed at them.

        2. Mel*

          Whether or not it applies depends on the company, not the profession or industry. I have been in and know of plenty workplaces that don’t deal in confidential information or are very public and we still cannot comment. I can easily see how your decision to share even mildly could get you in trouble.

          If it’s a friend that’s very close, surely you know them well enough to give them the benefit of the doubt and accept why they can’t talk about it?

        3. LGC*

          I kind of thought similarly – but the thing is, sharing with a close friend is low risk, not zero risk. And it’s fine (and probably smart) that LW might not feelu comfortable taking that risk with their career, especially since they’re visibly associated with the publishing house (to the point where randos on the internet are sliding into their DMs to tell them that their publishing house SUCKS). So that might put LW closer to being in a “some other job where you can’t talk to anyone outside of work about it” scenario.

  18. anon 4 this*

    Someone on John Scalzi’s blog once said something like, “Don’t point the internet at people. [Person] was waving the internet around and it went off.”

    I often understand exactly why people are unhappy about something, especially if it plays into social inequality and/or serves the needs of those doing harm. I think anger makes perfect sense as a response to mistreatment. But is throwing more anger on the pile likely to help other human beings? If not, I try to say nothing and save my time for actions that are (maybe powered by anger, sure) but actively compassionate.

  19. Alton Brown's Evil Twin*

    OP, I just have to say I love this line — “those who think someone else being offended by a book is tantamount to burning the Library of Alexandria”.

      1. JSPA*

        Yes, if OP is also on the writing end of the process (or has heavily edited or translated something in a similar voice, for that matter) I’d pay to read it.

  20. Lora*

    OP, you have my sympathies. I used to work for one of the most-hated companies in Big Pharma. I’m in R&D and Engineering, I have zero control over any of the shenanigans Marketing / Sales do! But I still had to sit through interminable ethics training about never bribing governments or doctors, not even when they ask for a bribe, no not even if it’s customary in that country to bribe people…My colleagues and I were all sitting around wondering where we were supposed to meet these government doctor people for fancy dinners when we rarely left the lab.

    I still work for Big Pharma, just in a company you probably haven’t heard of as we tend to make the news only in trade magazines. Here is what I have done that works:

    -We have an official corporate communications group that I can refer people to when they have questions. At CurrentJob they’re actually pretty good at putting together layperson-friendly YouTube videos and things that are more accessible to non-nerds.
    -I don’t respond to strangers at ALL, because heck with them. It would be like responding to the randoms who send internet dating messages that open with “nice boobs!” Just no. “Your company sucks because they XYZ!” OK, have a nice day.
    -For friends and family: Hey, I work in (totally other department) and Offending Department and I don’t even talk. What do you expect me to do about it? I can’t even control what Racist Auntie says on Thanksgiving!
    -For acquaintances: This is a little hard sometimes, but Alison’s “yeah, I’m unhappy about that too” is very reasonable. I’ve also said, “it’s not my division/department so I actually don’t know that much about it.” Or I just kinda let them rant for a bit and then say, “well that sucks. Anyway, about the other thing…”
    -On the rare occasion when I run into an acquaintance who is of the kooky conspiracy-theory flavor, backing away slowly helps but sometimes I’m not in a situation to do that and I do have to have the debunking conversation. I make it blunt and short and clear that I’m not interested in what they read on the intertubes. And then change the subject and we never speak of it again.

      1. gyrfalcon*

        Are you willing to give up *all* the medications you, and all your family and friends, rely on? Someone has to work at those companies to develop and manufacture them.

      2. Seeking Second Childhood*

        Why are you asking that question of someone who has already stated they left that company?

      3. Not So NewReader*

        Depending on how stringent a person’s world view is, it is possible for NO company/industry to be totally ethical.
        But we have to eat. This means we have to work somewhere.

        Check out socially responsible investing. No company fills all criteria. No company, anywhere. Yet, people still invest in many different types of companies.

      4. Lora*

        Because I like curing horrible diseases that cause a lot of people pain and there is literally nowhere else I’d get a chance to do that with all the resources that are required to do that. I think it’s actually morally right to fix human suffering if you can, and I am very good at biochemistry. I think it generally sucks, as a rule, for people to be in pain or dying, if they don’t have to.

        Drugs don’t come from academia, by and large. 80% of what academics try to sell us is irreproducible results. This is where the people with money (who are mostly not very nice people) are willing to accept the risk of 95% failure in humans at great expense. So this is where I work, because people need vaccines, antibiotics, rare disease cures, antivirals, oncology drugs, anti-inflammatories… are some of my co-workers oxygen thieves? Sure. But not all of them, everywhere.

        People in every industry will do what they reckon they can get away with. Food, clothing, house builders, RBMK reactor operators, all of it. Pharma is no different, there are horrors enough for everyone’s job if you look.

      5. JSPA*

        You can believe in leveraging their funding and resources for essential R&D, and concurrently vote for more regulation and oversight (or commit internally to whistleblowing if the ethics problems touch your department directly). Bribing heads of government to give you the contract for your – drug – that – works over competitors – drug – that – also – works is a different flavor of immorality than launching drug – that – barely – works – with – dangerous – side – effects – after – faking – trials. Many researchers are going to be, “not my monkeys” about the bribery; not about scientific misconduct.

    1. pancakes*

      Regarding the “interminable ethics training,” I wouldn’t expect it to be done away with anytime soon because the pharmaceutical industry was one of the top 5 for FCPA (Foreign Corrupt Practices Act) investigations last year, and just about every other. That you personally are not involved in ethics violations doesn’t make the topic irrelevant for the industry! Even if your own group’s work doesn’t bring you directly into contact with opportunities for the types of behavior the training covers, it can’t hurt to be aware of what goes on within the industry, and what might come up in other scenarios besides “fancy dinners.” People who do take part in fancy dinners sometimes chat in elevators or hallways at a conference, for example. And people in the industry communicate with gov’t representatives and officials in many, many more contexts besides fancy dinners. There are FCPA investigations that revolve around, say, emails. Or phone calls, or both.

      1. Lora*

        Oh, I agree it’s good for awareness. I often wonder what rocks we seem to find our Marketing group under – like, really, these dingbats who seemingly couldn’t choose between a rose bouquet and a cesspool if their lives depended on it are doing an important job for us?!? Why do we hire them, much less let them outside with business cards? It’s good to have at least an annual reminder of why we must be regulated to heck and back and have no choice in the matter.

  21. agnes*

    I would delete the post without commenting and block the person from future posts. Period. I don’t have time for this and I am sure you don’t either.

  22. ThePants999*

    Unusually, I disagree with Alison. I don’t think highlighting the constraints on what you can say about it is the right way of shutting the conversation down – that suggests to them that there’s something juicy if only they can pry it out. “Why are you talking to me? Just because I work at XYZ doesn’t mean I have anything to do with this.” shuts things down much more effectively, as it conveys not that you can’t say anything, but that you have nothing TO say.

    1. Jedi Squirrel*

      I believe Alison’s point is that whether or not you have something to do with it, it’s always inappropriate to have these conversations about controversial situations at your place of employment.

      In fact, many employee handbooks specifically state that employees are not allowed to discuss such issues either publicly or privately, and that all such requests for information needs to go to the company department responsible for handling them.

      If OP’s company has such a clause in their employee handbook, they could also refer to that, as well.

      1. ThePants999*

        I don’t disagree with that at all! But what we’re looking for here is the most effective way of getting the questioner to shut up and go away, and I assert that “there are bad consequences for me if I answer you” is not as effective as “I don’t have the answer”.

        1. Jedi Squirrel*

          Yeah, but these people aren’t normal, and any bit of rudeness (or even perceived rudeness in some cases) will simply add to their vitriol. Their hobby is not shutting up and going away.

          that suggests to them that there’s something juicy if only they can pry it out

          People who believe in juicy conspiracies will always believe there is something juice, no matter what you say. Your denial that there is anything juicy is just proof that there is something juicy.

          Like I said, these people aren’t normal.

        2. epi*

          I think a good compromise could be something like, “I don’t know anything about this decision, but I couldn’t discuss it with you even if I did.” Take advantage of the fact that, in this case, both are true. (Not that I would really object to lying about it, either; I just know some people would.)

          In the future, regardless of the OP’s opinion or involvement, they can say, “We talked about this before, remember? I can’t discuss my opinions on controversial decisions made by my company.”

          This is assuming these are friends that OP wants to continue to talk to about other things. Strangers should just be blocked, ignored, or referred to the company’s official channels.

    2. Seeking Second Childhood*

      I believe Alison’s suggested answers are the types of answers an employer would not react badly to if they happened to stumble across your page or have it forwarded to them.

      1. Jedi Squirrel*

        Yep! Because this is on social media and therefore visible to the public. Nobody wants their employee to be an asshole on social media on their behalf.

        I mean, some do, but most don’t.

  23. Mannheim Steamroller*

    My employer is one of several public sector “whipping boy” agencies in the area, and I hear complaints all the time. I actually agree with some of them. The most I can tell people is that I wasn’t part of the decision (although I know the people who were).

  24. Sparkelle*

    Regardless of your lack of actual involvement, in the current “burn it all down” culture your failure to quit in disgust at your employer’s actions will nevertheless be held against you. People who value nurturing their own self righteousness above their relationship with you should perhaps be nudged out of those relationships.

  25. Quill*

    As someone who lurks publishing twitter, I have a guess as to what this most recent scandal was, but ultimately, that’s not relevant: book twitter needs a cold bucket of fandom ettiquette dumped over their heads, particularly the following:

    – You do not go after employees of a publishing / games / whatever company
    – Seriously don’t stalk them
    – they likely didn’t even know this was happening, chill the fuck out.

    1. High School Teacher*

      I am an avid reader and stay up to date with book and publishing news. I’m so curious what this is referring to! I have a few guesses.

      But having said that, it is crazy that people would actually reach out to employees through social media.

  26. Tau*

    A potential escalation for a social acquaintance who won’t let go even after Alison’s responses might be “You do realise that badmouthing my company could cost me my job?” and then stare at them, letting the awkward silence lengthen, until they slink away in shame.

    1. Jenny*

      I don’t think that’s as effective as you’d imagine. See the person upthread in this very post who asked someone how they could ever work for a company (big pharma in that case) that does unethical things. Some angry people would say that actually the employee would be better off not working there.

  27. Been There*

    A previous employer of mine received a lot of vitriol, much undeserved, but some certainly deserved. The uberboss at the time was near-paranoid about any employee saying anything even remotely critical.

    When accosted by an angry member of the public, I would make sure to show them I was listening intently, with an especially grave face if I agreed with the complaint. A response that worked for me was an aggrieved facial expression and, “I’m obviously not in a position to talk about it, but would you do me a favor and write these points down in a letter and send it to [Uberboss, or some other appropriate person]? These are important concerns, and the more members of the public who write to [whoever] about it, the more quickly the concerns have to be addressed.”

    This response is applicable both for the deserved and undeserved vitriol. If I felt the vitriol was deserved, I might suggest writing to more than one person, put more unhappiness in my face, and be a little more emphatic in my encouragement to write.

    I could see a slightly more formal version (e.g., taking out the “favor” part) possibly working if one absolutely had to respond in writing (I, luckily, never had to do so).

    1. Flyleaf*

      This is a great idea. Give the angry person an outlet other than you. And making it require a bit of effort (writing a letter) puts the onus on angry person. They probably won’t write a letter.

  28. Senor Montoya*

    Yes, and the thing is, it’s something I’ve thought about. Should I be working for a more ethically pristine employer?

    The thing is, companies and institutions and governments etc are made by human beings, and hence are imperfect. I’ve actually had some luck with this kind of exchange:

    Them: How can you work for [employer]? They did X! They are unethical!
    Me: Yes, I do think about the ethics of working for any employer — am I implicated? So, who do YOU work for?

    LOL, either we have a good conversation about ethics and employment, or they bristle up: “What’s that supposed to mean?!” Me: “Well, Your Employer is known for Y, so how do you feel about working there?” or “Your Employer is part of Z industry, which has a reputation for Q, so how do you feel about working in Z industry?”

    1. Not So NewReader*

      This is something so useful, because every arena has something that people question.

    2. Eliza*

      That response doesn’t work as well with people who are self-employed and very picky about who they work with and think that everybody else should be the same way, unfortunately. I’ve met a few of that type.

      1. Eliza*

        Although now that I think about it, even that kind of person usually still has *something* you could point to, especially if they’re accepting money through PayPal or Patreon…

      2. Jenny*

        Yeah, and people who have specifically chosen humanitarian-type jobs…most extreme example, I know someone who works for MSF, but the vast majority of my friends work in state-funded healthcare in a country where that’s not controversial and the hospital hasn’t had any big public problems. Good luck with those statements without it sounding like you’re just trying whataboutism!

  29. hello*

    Publishing is also Very On Twitter, so much so that people assume that if you’re on twitter you’re taking office hours on there or something. If you really want people who know you socially to know it’s not your imprint you can explain to them how imprints work in a publishing house.

  30. Amber T*

    I’m probably preaching to the choir here, but please don’t yell at random employees for something their employer does. Or if you think it has something to do with their employer.

    A former employee of my company made national news that had a group of activists up in arms (and rightly so). If you googled that person’s name, you would get some news articles that tied him back to our company. Except he hadn’t been with our company for years… close to a decade. But our main line was passed around and we had a huge flood of calls basically yelling at us for employing this man. Which… we weren’t. And hadn’t been. And they would have realized that if they looked at our website. Somehow, someone got a hold of some cell phone numbers of high ranking employees and distributed those, so they were getting calls on their personal phones, again, yelling about how we could possibly employ this guy.

    If you’re going to yell at someone about something, 1) make sure you have the right person, and 2) make sure your facts are right.

  31. Actual Vampire*

    Honestly, if someone reaches out to you on your personal social media to complain about your company, I don’t think you even need to acknowledge their complaint – just acknowledge the fact that they’re being inappropriate by contacting you.

    “I am not the right person to handle your complaint. If you’d like to contact [company name], you can find them at [website].”
    “This is my personal social media page. Please do not send [company]-related messages here.”

    Or just ignore the message.

  32. MCMonkeyBean*

    I like the last script best even if you leave your opinon out of it. Personally, I would start with the “that’s outside my line of business angle” over the “I can’t discuss my employer” angle, because I think the latter is just going to make people more curious.

    If it happens again and it is again truly a different imprint or otherwise clearly removed from you I’d just say something like “It’s a big company and I really don’t know (or “work closely with” if you do know them) the people involved in that decision so I don’t really have anything helpful to contribute to this discussion, sorry.”

  33. Marie*

    Alison’s advice and verbiage is dead on perfect!!! I have no advice or suggestions to offer. I find this a very interesting post as I go over in my mind all the recent scandals/publishing. In a positive sense it is in great part due to social media that these injustices have come to light; in a negative sense, social media attracts negative hatred and vitriol—that online negativity a major reason why this intelligent and compassionate columnist (along with commentators) is one of the few I follow.

  34. This was me a year ago*

    I almost wrote to AAM because of the social media and email harassment from strangers, peers in the industry, and people I knew socially. I WAS at the center of their anger. I agreed with some of their points but also knew from previous experiences observing other people in the same situations that anything I did say would be taken out of context or would not “be enough.” I also liked my job, my supervisors, my company and was not going to make any statement that would affect my job or social capital.
    Sadly silence in the face of the twitter/ facebook barrage and demands for public apologies also fueled the anger.
    AnonforThis strategies are what we employed.

    co-sign on these.

    1. We have a designated office to answer media and third party questions. Whenever a newsworthy event occurs they send out an all staff reminder with standard language of “I cannot comment on Y, please direct all inquiries to X contact info.” Make a clear line of correct inquiry and pass it on.
    2. I am very clear with friends and family I can’t speak for my workplace. “Oh, you know I can’t comment on that. Did you watch Jeopardy last night?”
    3. We have a strategy for public communications that are threatening. We forward all emails and communications with threats in them to our security office.

  35. Observer*

    I think you can feel free to tell anyone who pushes you (if you have to continue to interact with them on any level) something like “I simply CANNOT comment on actions of my employer, especially ones that I have no involvement it and it is unreasonable of you to continue to keep pushing it. This conversation is over.” Then, actually end the conversation, either by turning away or changing the subject.

  36. Heidi*

    Hi OP. You could try, “This was not my decision to make, and it’s not mine to defend.” Then strongly encourage them to write a letter to whoever does handle these things. Give them the contact info if you have it. After all, telling you does nothing, but telling “them” might make a difference. Some of these acquaintances of yours might back off if they have to do a modicum of work.

  37. Seeking Second Childhood*

    I would suggest a variation on what I said when people tried to get me to tell them why my coworker was on medical leave: “I’m not in a position to know anything about that.”
    Stay strong.

  38. COBOL Dinosaur*

    I understand that in some lines of business it’s imperative to have a social media presence. Luckily I do not need to. I purposely do not mention my company anywhere on social media. I work for a health insurance company. What I do has nothing what so ever with deciding if your claim is paid or not but that doesn’t stop people from seeking employees out and posting stuff on their social media. I used to work for the state Department of Labor and I had seem employees there targeted as well even though they didn’t have anything to do with approving or denying who got unemployement.

  39. It's Me*

    I just wanted to say, as someone who is in OP’s industry and has a pretty good guess of what bad decision they’re getting flak for, solidarity, friend.

  40. Batgirl*

    Oh, a world of nope. Anyone who baits an employee into badmouthing their employer, is someone who’d rather fight David than Goliath. Anyone who takes a pot shot at my livelihood is getting blocked. What kind of privilege do you need to have where your online outrage is more important than my payday? I suspect OP is letting a shared opinion cloud them on this, but no matter how valid the issue, getting random employees into trouble helps no one.

    1. This was me a year ago*

      Thank you Batgirl. I had lost a few friends over this issue. People who I really loved because they just didn’t get that this was my job that was at risk.

  41. M*

    LW1 also look in your area and call the health department or the non emergency police number and let them know someone who said they were exposed to Covid-19 and told to quarantine is leaving and doing deliveries. Places are starting to fine and it charge people if they do this. As they should be! This is Awful and she should be fired and put in jail is she was exposed.

    1. Snuck*

      I would also ring the pharmacy “Hi, this is your customer’s daughter. Alice just delivered my father’s prescriptions, but she is supposed to be home on COVID quarantine, can you please a) resupply some that she hasnt’ had in her possession (I will leave the bag on the porch for your employee to collect) and b) assure me that all your delivery people are not home quarantined right now”

      That should sort her out from deliveries pretty damn quick… delivering meds to vulnerable people while either lying, or under quarantine, is not good.

      (And if asked how you know you could say “I work for her other employer”, but you could get out-ed)

  42. HR in the city*

    This is a very hard position to be in and you have my sympathies. I work in HR for a government agency and we get blamed for everything. It’s really hard when things end up in the news and people are online saying things like the entire HR department is incompetent and should be fired for this to have happened. I really want to respond to those people & tell them what they can go do to themselves because they have no idea how much work we have actually probably done on this issue they are pissed about. Sometimes the outcome they are so outraged about is actually the best outcome or the outcome that HR warned about but the department didn’t listen. Most times unless it is expressively against the law all we can do is advise. Even if it is illegal we sometimes have a hard time getting adults to understand you can’t do that. I agree with Alison that ignore it when you can but I would also sometimes just figure something else out to tell people you do. If they say why did your company do X say oh sorry I don’t know anything about that I’m so low level I never hear anything. I’ll have to look into that. Sometimes acting stupid might be your best friend. That’s what I do sometimes.

  43. That Girl from Quinn's House*

    I recommend removing your work info (company, title, etc.,) from your personal social media information, so you’re not associated with your company outside of professional accounts. If you Facebook/Tweet for work, make a second account for Professional You.

  44. Tate Can't Wait*

    But didn’t we already cover the elevation of the term “yelled at” and how misleading it is to say that happened when it didn’t really? I’d say this is a prime example of that situation.

  45. E*

    As someone who worked in OP’s field, and then moved to **very famous entertainment company** I feel OP’s pain on so many levels. Firstly with regards to social media, I only have my position in my bio, not the company. It weeds out a lot of trolls who simply search for the company on Twitter and then attack whoever comes up. This still allows me to be looped in with all the fun, informative discussions on Book Twitter.

    However, in person interactions have been a long and frustrating learning experience. Despite my policy to say ‘it’s in my contract that I can’t discuss X’, when asked about movie plot specifics or whatever, I do still get a huge amount of questions about the company’s position on political, diversity and LGBTQ+ issues, often phrased in a ‘what are YOU doing about it’ way. This also goes the other way, where people rant to me about how PC the company has become and how they probably won’t go see another one of my employers films (you do you!).
    This is in addition to being asked by distant relatives of acquaintances for autographs, tickets to premieres and theme park passes, etc. I don’t have access to most of these perks myself, so it gets frustrating being asked repeatedly.
    Unfortunately, my only coping mechanism for this is just to not tell new people who I work for! I really enjoy my job and love to talk about work, but it is the safest route until I feel comfortable that the person is not going to be rude or demanding.

Comments are closed.